Saturday, May 15, 2010

Queen Anne's Lace


 I am honored to be included in the Merry Month of May World Wide Collective Blogging Event sponsored by Roxanne of Illuminated Perfume. Though the flower of which I write today is not necessarily a May flower, and is sometimes referred to as a weed, it is a flower nonetheless and therefore, here it will be celebrated:

            Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Ed would take me there in the summer all those years ago. To the building with insides as blue as an empty old swimming pool, and with walls that were damp and cool to the touch. I remember the thick metal blinds hovering over the windows and the twittering sparrows in the eaves just beyond them. I remember the welcoming smiles from those mobile enough to roam the cool August hallways. I remember how my artwork looked on the walls of her room from the summer before; so curled and faded from the exposure of the previous year, but most of all I remember her laying there waiting for me in her laced up black shoes and too tan knee highs, and the dense forest of Queen Anne’s Lace that grew around the place that sheltered her paleness from the summer sun.
            I would arrive with an armful of my latest creations, lovingly made at the picnic table under the army green tarp at my grandparents’ house on Oak Street. I was patient in my youngsters’ skin on the long ride there because I knew that I would see her and  the sparrows and the only  Queen Anne’s Lace that I had ever, in my shallow memory seen, and it grew as tall as I.
            I don’t think my artwork ever meant as much to anyone then, or since, and I wonder how many countless hours that it rested there on the walls under her proud and wistful gaze as she thought of  the countless years and of baby me and of my smile and how I looked so much like my mother when she was my age. I can still hear her voice as she pointed out my new creations to the nurse that brought her afternoon medication and quickly left with a nod and a smile.
            Queen Anne’s Lace always reminds me of Great Grandma Dorothy, which reminds me of that visit to her tidy apartment years before when she asked if I wore a brassiere and not knowing what a brassiere was. It reminds me of the very beginnings of my artful life and the times I went to see her with an armload of my latest “work”, knowing that no matter what I created, it would be loved and gazed upon fondly and accepted with tears of joy and wonder at how differently it looked from the summer before that one. Queen Anne’s lace reminds me of the journey and the way each soft plume felt under my fingertips as I brushed by it along the longest driveway we walked to her…and the love in her eyes when I stood in her doorway and she saw me again after an entire year away. Surely it was an eternity as she lay there in the coolness with the old swimming pool colored walls, looking back on her life and tracing in her mind, all the little faces and hands she washed after dinner. One face and set of little hands belonging to tiny Jennifer me.
            Queen Anne’s lace reminds me of my youth and of Dorothy’s smile and the birth of possibility as I sat for hours creating at the shaded picnic table summer after summer after summer. The rough wooden surface burgeoning with Paint by Numbers and construction paper and glue; cross stitch pot holders and dolls made from Styrofoam and sequins and pins. It reminds me of how our lives are all so intertwined and yet our experiences so singular; each of us a tiny pinpoint of whiteness like little stars, so much more beautiful when clustered together in oneness under the gaze of the sky.