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Mother Nature's lessons bring generations of flowers [Aberdeen]

Earth Day

What we know of what Mother Nature provides in the spring has come to us over years of watching for the emergence of spring flowers, the scampering of the squirrels, and the change in the songs of the birds.

We like the idea of knowing when each sprout breaks through the cold earth of winter every green stick and flowering twig. Just getting whiff of the fresh perfume of the daffodils puts life into an otherwise dreary day!

The love of flowers is universal. We saw Russian children in Moscow carrying handfuls of tulips in the month of May. In the South Seas, girls wear flowers in their hair and ropes of orchids around their necks. Fortunately, from early childhood, we have admired the flowers that grew wherever our many travels too us.

The understanding that appeals to our imagination, however, is quite minute rather than extended. In other words, we appreciate the new growth occurring in our own neighborhood, although we have been known to crave the flowers on Lookout Mountain in Colorado, the desert flowers are the first rains outside of California's Palm Springs in April, or the ground cover edging the walkways on the Monterey Peninsula of California.

As a child in Maryland, we were sure the changes in the sounds of the birds beckoned us to a secluded thicket brimming with a surprise of new blossoms. We could hardly wait for the end of the school day so we could investigate.

By late April and early May, all the waiting would be over. It was an exciting time. How well we remember!

Watching for the wildflowers emerge from the dead leaves of winter was always the biggest thrill of the season. Getting to know where the choice violets and arbutus grew became a science for us. Remembering from year to year became a ritual.

Where did we go for Nature's flower shops that were provided for free? On the south side of today's Aberdeen Festival Park, that used to be the playing field for the Elementary School, there were wooden bleachers. This was the area that was very close to Mr. Aaronson's barn and barnyard, where the buildings on Howard Street stand, behind the first bank building.

Beneath those bleachers, starting in April, we would begin to hunt for flowers. The deep purple of the violets were incredible. Perhaps, it was just the right amount of sun and shade, or the proximity to the barnyard. It was quite easy to pick a large handful of these beauties after school and get them in a jelly glass at home before it was time for dinner.

Then, there were more distant spots where we weren't supposed to go for our flower picking. Risking a scolding, we sometimes went anyway.

On Mount Royal Avenue, beyond the Ivins, Wilkinson, Gilbert and Stark homes, was land that had not been built upon. Under big maple trees was a patch of the largest, velvety purple violets. This was heaven for the picking! There were white violets there too. Picket in the right order, the bouquet of alternating purple and whit could match any florist's arrangement.

This experience is made so clear to us today as we walk past Irene Creswell's house. There are still the wonderful large violets, and a few of the white ones, too. Each spring, for the many decades, these spring flowers bloom. It's very hard for us not to stoop and pick some, but we do stop and admire them for old time's sake.

Arbutus trailing plants in the woods on the north side of the playing field where the Aberdeen Library is today, were another choice find. Tiger lilies came later on the west banks of the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks.

Many years after our own wildflower picking had simmered down, or daughter came home with Dixie cups full of tiger lily plants she had dug as a present for us. When questioned, she said they were not out of anybody's yard, so we just dropped the subject, knowing that she had visited the banks beside the railroad tracks, busily, she prepared to plant the flowers.

We still have some of those tiger lilies that were lovingly transplanted so many years ago. The lily of the valley plants brought from South Rogers Street have grown to large beds in our yard today. There are some violets among the sweet smelling lily of the valley. We wonder who is responsible for them. They are all products of a child's busy hands.

Maybe, as we await to put out some of our saved geraniums, and more fragile flower plants in pots, we'll just pick ourselves a large bunch of violets and put them in a jelly glass, just for old time's sake!

Better yet, go to "Earth Day" at Festival Park in Aberdeen! Tomorrow, Saturday, April 20, 2013! It starts at 11 a.m. and continues to 4 p.m.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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