Sunday, July 12, 2009

Proust in a Geranium

Whenever I look at a potted geranium, I think of my Grandma. And this summer, thanks probably to the ample rain and the cool fresh air, I have a pink geranium growing in a large torquoise pot on my back deck that would do Grandma justice. Its full blooms, none of the petals are rotted or toasted by the sun, are about four inches in diameter. And its wonderful, spicy smell and sticky gum take me back to hot summers at her house in a small town in Western Pennsylvania.

She had a large four-square house with a huge wrap around porch. The premium seat on the porch was the old glider covered in a deep green vinyl. The vinyl was always cool to the skin and you could fold yourself into it with a cold glass of lemonade or ice tea that perspired drips down your arm. It all felt so fresh that you hardly noticed how hot it was. Everyone gathered on Grandma's porch and all around us were her geraniums. Mostly red ones, but sometimes a few white or pinks were tucked into the corners. And there was never a single blight to any of the blooms. Whenever I asked her what she did to make them look so good, she would just offer a homily of obvious tasks, water them, fertilize them. No tricks. They just grew of her green thumb.

I suspect they also basked in the aura of her ample love. Because to be around Grandma was to know that you were special. A visit to Grandma's house was a highly anticipated event. Even our dog knew there was something there, because whenever we drove around a certain hill in the woods, she'd whine and wiggle with excitement. Hugs meant that Grandma's soft arms would envelope you in a circle of warmth. And not long after that, we would all be eating her raisin cookies with a cold glass of milk. Later, when I grew up, I still made treks to her house, and the joy of her greeting ritual never changed.

Today, the sun is beating down on the backdeck. And at 9 A.M., the humidity is already choking the air. I want to garden, but already I can anticipate the sweat dripping down my face and stinging my eyes. This would be a perfect day to lounge about on Grandma's glider and enjoy the geraniums. The Putterer


  1. Dear Garden Putterer - I'm inspired to overwinter my gernamiums, just like Grandma. Let's research and do it.

  2. Dear Anonymous, Grandma had a dirt cellar where the plants could be stored and I don't have a cellar, do you?