Bloom Binging Without Precaution

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    Dead Horse Gap in Prospect, KY.

    Rose and I are lying low in Salvisa, but we drive to Louisville once a week for grocery shopping at the Dirty Kroger in Clifton and for bloom binging in Cave Hill Cemetery, Cherokee Park and nearby Kentucky woodlands.

    Photographing spring blooms takes a bit of the edge off social isolation. I love Kentucky in April. In fact, I am willing to take on anyone who thinks they have better early spring blooms than Kentucky.

    Trillium erectum and Phlox divaricata in Prospect, KY.

    I like my grocery options, also.

    The Dirty Kroger’s on lower Brownsboro Road, despite a major rehab a few years back, has persisted with this name for decades. I don’t remember the store ever being dirty, literally, but grocery shopping with cheerless shoppers now feels like a dangerous and dirty obligation.

    The frontline workers, on the other hand, have been helpful and pleasant. I am grateful to all shelf stockers, floor moppers and cashiers. Ditto for the good folks at Rainbow Blossom, and Lotsa Pasta. And I have taken advantage of the Wine Rack’s curbside pickups, including their recommendation of a mighty fine Spanish Tempranillo.

    Forsythia suspensa in Cherokee Park, Louisville, KY.

    As COVID-19 spread, we began ordering Kroger groceries online for curbside pickup, also.

    Bloom binging, however, has continued without precaution. My people are not into death worship, but we follow blooms wherever we can find them.

    I have relatives at eternal rest in beautiful Cave Hill Cemetery, but I know little about these Bushes. The family plot filled up years ago. My grandmother knew where the family skeletons were. Her best stories would have been about the misfits. We had plenty. Nanny would not have pulled punches about any of them

    Spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, KY.

    Grace Williams Bush told funny stories, a talent cultivated by her storyteller father, while growing up on a ranch near Gettysburg, South Dakota.  Nanny smiled and laughed often—easily and without restraint. She once confessed to my father, late in life, that she was oversexed. He didn’t press her for details.

    Magnolias fall to rest in Salvisa, KY.

    I’ve been thinking of Nanny these past few weeks. She wanted nothing to do with a burial plot or headstone. There was to be no fuss upon her death. Nanny asked that her remains be cremated. Years before she died, she asked us to think of her, occasionally, when we saw a pretty cloud in the sky.

    Daffodils in the bottomland along the Salt River in Salvisa, KY.

    Nanny was nearly blind with cataracts in old age. Life became a blur. On Sunday visits with her after church, when I was growing up, we would all try to describe what she could not see.

    I’ve dreamed of Nanny driving shotgun, around the farm, the park and the cemetery with us the past three weeks.

    Rose and I brought spring beauties saucer magnolias, daffodils forsythias into clear focus for her.

    A field of winter rye and a cloud for Nanny in Salvisa, KY.

    I tried to trick Nanny with made-up blooms. In a field of daffodils, on the Salvisa farm, I told her we were passing a 300-foot tall tree, with hundreds of sky-blue blooms as big as dinner plates. “Nanny, the blooms smell like sweet sherry.” I knew that would get her attention.

    “You’re making this up,” she said. Nanny paused and then asked politely, “May I please have a glass of sherry?”

    The car filled with laughter.

    8 COMMENTS

    1. Loved the entire piece but the photo with the beautiful cloud for Nanny
      is a total standout. My family spy in Lexington reports their food co-op is doing curbside pick-up now. Kudos to new Gov Beshear for his 5pm broadcast which I tune into some days. Stay Safe, KY!

    2. Another admirable piece: thank yo.
      I’ve been wanting, for a couple of years, to get spring beauty in my (chem-free, weed-friendly) lawn. I tried starting some seeds, no luck.
      Does anyone know a source of plants, tubers?
      Thanks, Chris

      • Thanks, Chris. Check online with Izel Plants or Prairie Moon Nursery for plant availability. Small plants might be the easiest way to get going. Seeds, on the other hand, would need to be sown very fresh after ripening and sown directly in the ground, perhaps in a nurse bed for a year or two. I’ve got a hunch Claytonia seed, and lots of other spring ephemerals doesn’t store well. Other folks might have other plant or seed availability ideas.

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