It’s been peak bloom for peonies this past week. With our hot temperatures and gusty winds I can walk outside and immediately smell the scent of peonies in the air. It’s a short-lived bloom season, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons I savor every day. We’ve added additional peony bushes over the years, but I continue to favor the ones that I transplanted from my mother and father’s house in Kansas. These are the ones that were on the side of their house, sometimes neglected, but they continued to blossom. Each year my parents would gather and cut the blooms to take to the cemeteries on Memorial Day and lay on the graves of relatives. Fast forward to now, with both my parents having passed on, I’m filled with wonderful memories and see these Kansas peonies blooming in honor of my mom and dad.
We traveled south last week for a visit with family in Kansas. Our route took us off the interstate and along two lane highways and county roads. It was relaxing and much more interesting than the speed-view when traveling at 70+ miles per hour. We stopped at small city parks and explored fields of corn and soybeans. The temperatures were still summer-like but the days are certainly shorter. The sunsets were beautiful like this one – fields of flowers and a ball of fire going down over the horizon but still giving its glow and colors to the clouds above. The field was full of dragonflies and grasshoppers, all in a feeding frenzy before fall and winter’s arrival. It was a wonderful trip — not just for the scenery but more importantly for the time spent with family.
We’ve just returned from a quick Thanksgiving trip south – for warmer climes and family. After large dinners and feasts, this group gathered together at my parents’ house. Following both my mother’s and father’s deaths in the past year, their house of 57 years has many things in need of clearing and cleaning. This group of people who I am so happy to claim as family all chipped in with sweat, work and lots of laughter to fill a huge dumpster in a short period of time. Decisions were made on what to save, what to donate, and what to pitch. The pool table in the basement required the strength of the younger generation, along with the assistance of a chain saw and many recommendations (some heeded and some not) to find its way up the stairs to the dumpster. What could have been a week-long project filled with angst and tears, became a joyful celebration of the family that my parents were so proud of.
This is a photograph of a family that’s come together to support one another amid a series of losses the past six months. There is love and caring, trust and help. We’ve shared our laughter, our tears, our sorrow, and our togetherness; we’ve opened our hearts to one another, and we’ve learned new things about each other in the process. When one of us was down, there was someone to listen to us, someone to comfort us, someone to hold us close. There was someone to take the lead when decisions needed to be made or tasks needed to be accomplished. I have a renewed appreciation for each of the people in this photograph.
With the recent deaths in my family I now understand first-hand the importance of photographing and preserving the memories that we collect over a lifetime. This photograph was taken after the funeral service for my mother. There was a mixture of sorrow and celebration in all of our hearts, but this is my family and I’m so very proud of our love and connection – something instilled in us all by both my mother and my father.
Our summer has finally arrived, and with it the peonies have burst into bloom. I’m fortunate to have three peonies in the yard; one white one that was purchased here in Minnesota and is known to be hardy for our cold winters, and two pink peonies that I transplanted from my parents’ home in Kansas. It took those two plants a couple of years to establish themselves, but they appear to be thriving now. A week ago we had a huge wind and rain storm that moved through, causing major damage to trees, fences, and plants. I was worried that the peonies, which has been pummeled by the storm, would not bloom. But they have burst forth with the brightest of colors, and the best scent around. Just having them in the house or seeing them in the yard brings a smile to my face and an acknowledgment that summer has arrived.