Not saying you'll need one but I promised the possible kleenex warning and here it is!
As soon as I got home I called the neighbor who plowed my gardens and asked him to come over right away to cultivate a new field for me. He came that same evening and worked up the rich, black earth into what seemed like a huge bed.
When my children left for school the next day I took a bunch of boxes to the farm and started digging, being careful to keep each tag with each tuber. About ten minutes into the digging Doug came home and said he had the day off work and he was going to start plowing right away! Oh no! Lori and I dug and dug and piled peony tubers into the truck helter-skelter. We were covered in dirt and mud but no matter how fast we dug the rows still stretched on.
We heard the tractor starting up and realized we were never going to get finished so we grabbed two more plants and then watched as that shiny metal started ripping out years and years of beauty and history. Did I mention I never did like Doug?
It made me sad to watch so I left to drive carefully home. Careful of the blisters on my hands, careful of my precious cargo.
When the kids got home from school they filled buckets of water from the spring and we spent hours and hours planting the 27 plants that had been rescued. Five had tags. The rest were a mystery.
They all grew. Each one into magnificent plants laden with blossoms of every color from the palest yellow frills to almost black single blossoms. Most of the varieties I could never identify. I found out later that the man who had lived on that farm for over fifty years was a peony breeder and had varieties from all over the world.
Each year I lived in that old house the peonies took my breath away. I could feel the history in the blossoms. Feel the mystery in the unnamed varieties.
Sometimes I thought that leaving my beloved farmhouse and my gardens and my friends would break my heart entirely. But time does heal all wounds, eventually. Or at least make them manageable.
Several years ago when I was back in Ohio I asked the people who now live in my old home if I could walk around the yard. The peonies were gone. The old apple trees were gone. The perennial beds were gone. So much was gone. All of that clutter was just in the way of mowing they told me.
I left that day feeling so sad. So much lost beauty for the sake of an hour or two saved on a lawn mower.
That tiny kernel of sadness for loss still resides in my heart…for the lost peonies and the lost dreams. There is a small consolation recognizing that the blossoms are still inside with me in memory. I can easily close my eyes and recall the feel of the moist, rich soil under my hands as I cultivated around them. My mind still sees their glorious colors illuminated in the late afternoon sunshine.
But sometimes no matter how vivid the memory, my heart still grieves for the passage of time and the loss of something wonderful.
Tend your peony beds carefully, my friend. They may never come again.
If you missed the first part of this story just click on this link.