Tales from Flowery Town

FT azaleasFor a few days I helped out the family of Soldier and Joy, as grandmas like to do when new babies are around. I mostly played with little Liam. (Scroll down fast if you can’t wait for the Liam-related pics.) We took walks around their neighborhood, in the Sacramento area where the hot summers make for some lush landscapes. In their very own back yard live two or three real orange trees, and guess what? It’s orange blossom time right now.FT orange blossoms

If you’ve never smelled orange blossoms, I hope you get the chance before you die. The scent they exude must be what Adam and Eve smelled in Eden before death came into the world. Which makes me realize, on second thought, that you won’t have missed anything if you get to heaven without experiencing orange blossoms, because the Reality of the the One who made them in order to give us something of Himself will be there to delight you so much more.

It’s a quiet and peaceful neighborhood I was pushing the stroller through. I met up with two ladies older than I who were right away taken with Liam. I asked them, “What is that scent in the air that is so sweet?” We knew it wasn’t orange blossoms, though mention was made of them.

FT photinia 4-14
Photinia flower

“The photinias are all blooming now,” said one woman, and that rang a bell with me, though farther down the street I came upon one of the photinias that grow as big as trees here, and a whiff of the flowers made me know that their scent wasn’t the only ingredient in the spring mix. Many, many big trees of all sorts are blooming in this town, and it’s like strolling through a bouquet.

FT raphiolepis & mailbox 4-14
Pink Raphiolepis

 

The Raphiolepis is no doubt in the mix of scents. I’ve never seen such giant specimens before.

Liam seems amazingly studious of natural artifacts for a child of 21 months. As we walked past the landscaped yards or the occasional weedy strip, I plucked a dandelion more than once, and a red leaf, juniper needles and cones, and a poppy flower to hand to him. We smelled roses.

FT P1090307

He examined each thing as he rode, and then stashed it in the tray of his stroller. When we arrived home his mother put all of the items on a plate, and that was not the end of it. He kept looking at his treasures and carrying the plate back and forth. We did the same thing the next day, and then my back was hurting.

I had ordered a compilation of Eloise Wilkin stories sight-unseen, and brought it along for Liam. He now doesn’t want to read any other book, I think partly because this one is well-suited for practicing the thumbing of the pages along their edges that children enjoy learning to do, as in a flip book — is there a word for that? It doesn’t work if the pages are too few or too thin, and certainly not with most books aimed at toddlers.FT white tree

After sitting on my lap and getting acquainted with the book in this cursory way, we found pictures that bore resemblance to things in his world. Of course that is common in books for small children, but I suppose I started a new way of making connections for Liam when, as we were looking at a picture of a bumblebee and I was making the “buzz” sound, I said, “There must be bees around your orange trees right now — let’s go find out,” and we dropped the book right there to go see the real thing.

There were bees, but almost too high to see, and they were at the height of their midday frenzy right then, but L. paid close attention. That afternoon when we were playing with sidewalk chalk and water out on the patio that they shade, he suddenly looked up in the trees as though listening for the bees, and then he ran into the house to fetch the book and came out to stand underneath holding it with both hands very solemnly as he gazed up for a minute.FT P1090413

This sort of thing happened with several more connections, such as his riding toy, a bright plastic contraption with lights flashing that didn’t much resemble the humble wooden kiddie car of yesteryear featured in the book. But he saw enough likeness to believe us, and began to want to bring his toy from across the room to sit next to the couch where we were reading.

The most fun link waP1090409s with the tree swing. Wilkin’s illustration in one story shows a swing that is nearly identical to the one in Liam’s magnolia tree, and he must have the book out there on the grass when I pushed him in it. I opened it to the page with the picture he wanted, and set it against the trunk where he could see it while he swung up and back and I recited “How Do You Like to Go Up in a Swing?” which poem, by the way, is also in that book. He laughed and pointed to the picture and I hoped I wouldn’t have to swing him as long as that child was swinging.FT peas

FT orange tree

Lying in bed my last morning there, I was blessed by the songs of scores of enthusiastic birds, and the smell of orange tree flowers coming through the screen. I had been able to leave it open all night as the season is now so warm and mild. Through the glass door I could watch those orange trees take shape in the dawn.

Now I am home, where it’s mild, but not warm. I wouldn’t mind going back to Flowery Town soon. Next time I do, sometime after Pascha, I’ll give you a little report on Liam’s baby brother, or at least a nickname for the little guy. He’s very dear!

8 thoughts on “Tales from Flowery Town

  1. What a truly lovely post, G. I enjoyed every word and every picture. Children really need so little of “stuff” when there is so much that nature (God) offers outdoors. I have a wooden swing much like Liam’s in my backyard. I just hung it back up after the snowy season. The grands are happy to see it again.

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  2. Liam is so wonderful and so smart! He reminds me of a certain 2-1/2 year old I know! πŸ™‚ Glad you had a good visit and the sights and smells of spring are very inspiring for those of us still watching snow melt! πŸ™‚

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  3. What a lovely little walk. So special. I don’t know if I have ever seen those bushes you took photos of as big as that. It is so lovely to walk to the smell of blooming flowers. I say that poem to my grand kids now when I push them in the swing like I did their Moms and Dads. I do love books with Eloise Wilkins drawings. I can’t wait to find out about your new grandson.

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  4. Always love your photos. And curious…we have Photinias bordering our backyard, and I’ve never noticed them smelling good. πŸ™‚ Must make an attempt to see this spring. They’re just coming out in new, red leaves now.

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  5. Our season of flowering citrus is about over down here and we’ve got lots of little fruits on our trees. What’s busting out all over here is leaves – leaves tend to drop in March and everything starts coming back in April, just in time for Pasqua.

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  6. Lovely trees they have…perhaps the boys will have some orange tree memories similar to some of yours. So Liam has made the connection that there are books that can tell us about our world…and he can learn directly…as he grows this should be very interesting!

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  7. So beautiful! I’ve told my husband we need to go to CA and visit all these wonderful flowers and plants and trees that are so different from what we have here in TX thanks to your blog and a few other favorite CA ladies. He has been but I think he mostly saw traffic and the inside of big offices. So orange blossoms are going on my list and it seems like spring would be the best time to visit?

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