Saturday, June 2, 2007

He left his mark~



I stretched out on the lounge chair in the back yard, a book on my lap. I'd just finished a bike ride, and had showered.

I was looking forward to reading, but I was not ready to focus. So I drank my iced coffee, and let my gaze drift around the yard. The mind meanders when not put on a leash.

The bleeding hearts under the tree reminded me of my grandmother's-- only hers were pink. I hadn't much liked them as a child. They were kind of a fancy flower, an old lady's flower I'd thought back then when daisies were my favorite. But there was something appealing about these in my garden. The flowers stretched along each branch reminding me of tee-shirts hanging from tenement house clothes lines-- second and third floor, one above the other.

Then I thought I'd like to press them. I haven't thought of pressing flowers for long time. In a college botany class, I'd been required to collect and press local plants after determining their genus and species. My father made a plant press from layers of cardboard. It was his old Army belt cinched tight around the cardboard that kept pressure on the drying specimens.

He was like that, my father. He'd make what ever was needed, using things around the house, satisfying both his unused creativity and his much used thrifty nature.

He was 12 during the depression. It left its mark on him. To waste anything-- food, money, time-- was anathema to him. Through him, it left its mark on me as well.

The press is long gone, probably taken to the dump back when it was still called a dump and burned refuse openly. I probably wouldn't use the press if I had it. There is something sad about a flattened plant, brittle and faded, all the vibrant life squeezed out. I think my father would agree. He left beauty right where he found it, the better to enjoy it. Another mark he left on me.

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