Stirrings-Violet bouquet

No. 5 in my collaboration with Jen at Painted Fish Studio, looking for signs of spring.


When I was about 10, my mom, dad, and I lived with an elderly lady named Marilla. My mother was her caretaker and my dad kept up her property. She had such a tranquil home. I still remember the way the light filtered in through the sheer curtains and lingered on the velvety drapes. In my memory, everything is a shade of gray mossy green or slatey light blue. When we moved in, I was thrilled that my bedroom came with a little alcove and a built in vanity mirror and dresser, just like in old movies! And two pianos, which inspired me to beg and beg for lessons.

Marilla had had a daughter who had died young, I think perhaps she was a hemophiliac and had died in her teens. It was very sad, and she never had other children. Her dear nephew cared for her property and hired my family to live in and care for her.

She adored our dog Missy, a black cocker spaniel, and the feeling was mutual. Missy would rest her soft head on Marilla’s knee, and the gentle lady would stroke those long ears and croon “Poor Mitzy, she has lost her bone. Has Mitzy lost her bone? Yes she has. I shall find your bone you pretty girl.” Marilla was always kind to me, even though I was so impatient and half the time couldn’t restrain myself and had to correct how she said the dog’s name, as if Missy cared!


Along a long, narrow cement pathway that ran between our house and the one next door, where my sister lived with her little children, grew patches of several different varieties of violets in the cool shade. Marilla produced tiny embossed green glass bottles for me to fill with violet bouquets. Violets are one of my favorite flowers and will always remind me of a very happy time of my childhood.

Those houses are no longer standing: they were long since torn down to make way for a strip mall, but the smell is in my nose, and the height of the trees, and the biggest icicle in the world that grew from the second story roof to the ground and was bigger around than my arm.

3 Responses to “Stirrings-Violet bouquet”

  1. 1 painted fish studio March 11, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    what a wonderful memory! and you’ve warmed me up a bit, it’s zero degrees and frigid here. i’m about to scream…

  2. 2 jenn March 13, 2009 at 11:38 am

    you draw a beautiful picture of marilla and your life with her. thanks for sharing.

  3. 3 Marian March 14, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Violets are still my favorite flower, with their delicate sweet fragrance that fades so quickly. I also have a collection of little shot glasses and miniature vases for them. I remember how our mama taught us how to pick the fragile stems to get the longest length and then to ring your posy with a circle of the heart shaped leaves. If I am near her when they bloom, I always bring her a little bouquet.

    I like the traditional blue violet color the best though sometimes I see white or light lavender ones.

    I used to walk home from Bountiful JR. high past a home that had huge patches of violets blooming under their apricot trees. It cheered my heart just to see them. I stopped and asked the older widowed woman who lived there if I could pick them, and she came out and sat on a towel and picked them with me. She also painted beautiful teacups with flowers on them. We became friends. I guess I was 13? The more you pick them the more they bloom…

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