On Sunday we went looking for mayflowers. They're called mayflowers but they come out in April here in Nova Scotia, at the tail end of winter. Their tiny pink and white blossoms, so delicate in comparison to the thick hairy brown stems and broad rusty leaves that protect them, smell heavenly -- sweet, wild and, beyond that, indescribable. Finding them -- and you can only find them in the wild -- means that it is definitely spring.
Luke, unconvinced that mayflowering would be very exciting, brought his Lego Ninjago sword, which he used to fight off a number of invisible monster skeletons he happened upon. He also explained to me, as I peered into the underbrush looking in vain for tiny pink and white buds, that just the sight of his sword would be sure to terrify any bears we might stumble across, as surely at least a few of their ancestors must have been killed by swords. I nodded and kept looking for mayflowers, wondering how the bears might've communicated this ancestral fear of swords to their children. Sylvie, pushed along in her stroller by her father, bounced over tree roots and babbled about owls.
After some fruitless searching, we came out onto the hiking trail that has been made out of a defunct railway line. Luke and Vivi, who by now had tumbled out of her stroller, started to lag behind and to complain. Grampa's sharp eyes managed to discover three tiny unopened mayflower buds on the side of the trail. "Maybe it's still too early," I said and suggested that we make a quick detour to the nearby town graveyard, to see the children's grandmother's grave, before going on to the playground.
Luke's grandfather's name and birthdate are inscribed to the left of his grandmother's but of course, as Grampa is still with us, there is only a smooth empty space where the date of his death would go. "Who knows? Who knows? Who knows?" said Luke cheerfully, as he pointed one by one at the blanks where the month, day, and year will be.
Vivi caught sight of a small gravestone carved in the shape of a teddy bear. She ran off toward it. I went after her, to make sure she didn't take any of the flowers away. It was the grave of an 8-month-old baby. "We love you, silly bird" was inscribed along the bottom. Sylvie giggled and stumbled away in her bumble bee boots. I followed her, looking down at my feet, my eyes suddenly filled with sunlight and tears. And there, in the dead brown grass all around the children's grandmother's grave, were dozens of mayflowers.
Thank you, Gramma Linda.