My favorite spring memory is one that I do not remember. I am four or five, and I am bent over these beautiful red and yellow tulips that are lined up against the side of our house. We had a beautiful house then. It was blue on the outside. My mother showed me once, years later. That one, honey, that yellow one right there. It used to be blue. There was a willow tree in the backyard and a little patio where my parents would blow up one of those plastic swimming pools during the summer months. But those tulips, those tulips were beautiful.
My mother used to garden. It was her main form of physical activity when she was pregnant with my sister. I used to help her, maybe with a pair of my own little gardening gloves, or maybe I just stood there and looked pretty. But one of my favorite spring memories is a photograph I found in one of my childhood albums: me, in a little black coat and matching black bonnet, stooped over those tulips.
I bet they smelled beautiful. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can smell the spring air, like dirt and dryer sheets. I can imagine that honey-dew sweet scent of the flowers. I can feel the warmth of my mother’s eyes, of her embrace. This photograph was years before I would become a stubborn, independent child, before I would become the sassy, head-strong person I am now. It is a photograph from when times were simpler. When people stopped to smell flowers. When I had no other obligation than to look pretty and smile for pictures.