Forsythia is in bloom. As one of the boldest of the spring flowers, she begs to be noticed with her wild mane of yellow blossoms. She cries out, “Spring is here! Spring is here!” Along the roadways, she is untamed and waves madly in the March winds. In some yards, they have tried to subdue her. Cut to look like an average shrub, the yellow nearly jumps out and screams to be observed. She does not want to blend in. It is her job to announce the change in season and she takes it very seriously. I saw a remarkable cluster of Forsythia on a recent drive. The depth of color and the length of the bushes created a hedge which surrounded the yard, like the wall of a great city of old. Her arms waved wildly at me as I passed by.
Suddenly I was transported back to my childhood…standing in my grandmother’s well established yard. Hydrangeas hugged the house just under the windows. Gardenias, and azaleas rested in the shade of tall pines and maples. In the summer there were flowers everywhere, but at the first breath of spring the jonquils raised their heads. To a child, the beds seemed full of them. I remember putting my nose in their faces and sniffing deeply enough for them to close around my nostrils. I thought they were alive and trying to eat me! I never sniffed one again, but I did enjoy their many shades of yellow.
However, the daffodils were not the ones who called me to the past on this day. It was the Forsythia who waved me back to a young girl, standing in front of her unkempt hair of yellow. She towered over me making a kind of barrier between the yard and the forest. I was too shy to cross the line she had drawn. From my low vantage point it looked like brambles with delicate little flowers shooting out in all directions. I think I was drawn to the chaotic nature of the long willow-like shoots. There was something very wild about them. Looking through them was like looking through a yellow jungle. Birds found places to nest in the thicket and bees came for the nectar. I avoided the bees so once the blooms were full I watched from a distance. There was a white swing nearby, an iron bench painted white, and an old play gym with a glider I could ride on and push. These were my vantage points from which I watched Forsythia.
One day my grandmother came out with some bricks and showed me a miracle. She explained that if I put a brick on one of the shoots, bending it to the ground that it would make another plant. I could not imagine she could possibly be right. I thought it a foolish idea, but I was just curious enough to try it. She reached up and bent the yellow stalk down to the ground. It looked like it was bowing to me. She showed me just where to place the brick, and that was it. We placed several more bricks. And then there was nothing more to do but wait. The days I was there I checked on the progress, but she told me not to move the weights. I do not know how long before I came back, or how long it took for the transformation to take place. I still remember running to the bushes and seeing a small little plant on the other side of the brick reaching up to her mother, just like a child would do. I removed the brick expecting the branch to fly up to where it had been before. I was amazed to see that it was rooted to the ground. The plants we had rooted created a yellow archway I could walk under like a princess in a palace. Soon we cut the original stalk from the mother shrub and the new plant was on its own.
I can tell you that those bricks went to good use after that. “Making new plants” became one of my favorite things to do. I felt so knowledgeable and creative. When my friends came over I would show them the plants I made…like a magic trick.
My memory time machine, returned to the present moment and my face held a smile. Forsythia smiled back at me and I continued on my journey.
It made me think, that sometimes, if we are flexible and can stand a bit of weight something wonderful and new will be the result. Instead I tend to try to wiggle my way out of painful places. My back is bent in an uncomfortable position, and instead of bowing I try to stand tall. I do not realize the desired outcome will expand me, and ultimately make me free to grow deeper. I want to remember the lesson of Forsythia, and she wants me to remember it too.
2 thoughts on “The Lesson of Forsythia”
You need to send this in to Southern Living magazine. Really!!!
What a wonderful story you told and painting you created. Your final paragraph reaches our souls. How lovely.