I must have been about 13 years old the last summer I went to visit Aunt Mae and Uncle Bob in Darby, Montana. I had been there each summer by myself since I was 10 or so I think. I have many fond memories of my summers there in small town USA but today as I wandered through my garden I was joyfully reminded of that last summer I spent with these two special people.
Aunt Mae was solemn – some may even say stern – not truly a joyful person but always kind and caring to me. She was the oldest of nine surviving children and had done much of the raising of that clan herself at a very young age. My dad was the eighth in line with just one younger sister.
She loved to garden – probably an escape for her. They always had a large vegetable garden but she loved those flowers. That year she had planted a brand new variety of Oriental Poppy. It was a salmon colored poppy and she had seen it in one of the seed catalogs and probably spent money saved for something else to purchase this plant.
When I first arrived in Darby she pointed out the plant to me and showed me the big bud getting ready to bloom. I was there for about two weeks and each morning I would awake after a nights sleep in my own room – which had been my cousin Rod’s room all knotty pine and a built-in bunk – and run downstairs to check that bloom.
As I remember that flower did not fully bloom until about the last day I was there. It was so gorgeous and Aunt Mae was just beaming with joy at this beautiful bloom that no one else in town had or perhaps even knew about.
Today – in our newly landscaped front garden redone after we painted our old home – I found this beautiful salmon colored poppy showing off in all its glory – what a great gardening memory for me.