I imagine the stories of the irises in my parent’s backyard. The yard that was once my yard. Deep purple with a whisper of violet and a golden backbone. Their genealogy can be traced to my great-grandmother’s garden. They have been fed by 100 years of soil and rain. 100 winters they have slept in silence. They have survived the frost of 100 springs, their faces always pointed to sun. They have kissed bees and flirted with ladybugs, their pistils and stamen waving in the breeze as if to greet the Queen of England. Bursting through snow without apology, hesitation, or fear. Every inch a lady.
What stories could they tell? Could they tell the story of my great-grandparent’s first date during the 37 flood? Of my grandfather’s return from The War? Of my brother Brian’s death? Of Derby morning in 1972 when my great-grandfather died? Of my visits to Algonquin Park? Of playing princess in the picture window?
Do they get lonely each spring when the faces they have known do not reappear? Do they get weary carrying the weight of family secrets? Do they get jealous at the grandeur of the peony whose fragrance wafts in the breeze like fine perfume right next to their side?
To be honest, I am not sure if the irises in my parent’s yard are the same ones that once lived in my great-grandmother’s yard. I like to think they are. I like to think they are parts of her, parts of us, parts of me that survive seasons. I celebrate their strength and beauty. I celebrate their posture and grace. I celebrate their color and detail. I celebrate their timeliness and discretion. I celebrate their humor and billowy beard. I celebrate their dependability and sense of surprise.
I will know I am home when I plant irises.