Sunday, February 10, 2008


Two bucks can buy a lot of happiness, particularly if "happiness" comes in the form of five-foot long pussywillow switches. Technically, I bought 5 dollars worth, since I purchased two bunches and the entire time I was smiling so hugely my face hurt.
Pussywillows remind me of spring as much as they remind me of my godmother's house, with it's unkempt flowerbeds (her husband died years before, and he did all the gardening) and decrepit, falling-down shed. Unlike my mother's neatly ordered beds, I could tromp though these unmade messes, sit down in the midst of them, and even better, pick the flowers. The beds were scattered randomly throughout her huge yard (you don't see yards like that anymore), and there were dead spots, tussocks, and the general creep towards entropy that ensues when the groundsman is no longer around to fight, tame, and otherwise control nature. Along the edges of these slowly reverting beds, as well as along the boundaries of my godmother's chaotic yard, were pussywillows.

Unlike the huge, pink(!) catkins on my Japanese pussywillows, the ones growing at my godmother's house were small, silvery-grey, like little pearls. It was hard to snap them off, sometimes I sort of ending up more or less peeling the branches from the main bush. The woody stems were a yellow-green with that earthy, greeny, thin sappy sent that reminds me of spring, of ground squishy with snowmelt and spring rain and just being a kid.

I remember a drainage ditch (which I called a stream) and floating the catkins that had fallen off (or I had pulled off) on it. They floated very well, I think because of the little pockets of air the the "fur" caught. I used to pretend that I was in the sky, placing clouds here and there and they would float along on air currents. When I got tired of this (or bored or hungry or wet enough) I'd go inside my godmother's house and give her the pussywillows.

My godmother always appreciated a bouquet of pussywillows and would always put them in a vase in what was really a dingy, bordering on dirty livingroom, but in my eyes, it was my favorite place to be, because of the candy bowls (more about that some other time), a bookshelf with just my books on it, the ability to be myself and be loved solely for that, and a vase full of whatever blooms where in season and I had picked.

No comments: