Over the weekend, the algorithm powers-that-be decided my feed should be filled with photos of the beautiful Mimosa Tree because they are in full bloom here in Tennessee.
It’s funny how a photo can bring back vivid memories.
Mimosas are one of my favorite trees. When I was growing up, we had a huge one (by Mimosa standards) in our front yard, near the road. It was the perfect climbing tree and it’s unique leaves, flowers and resulting bean pods were the tools for many a summer afternoon of play.
My younger brother, Jason, was my closest companion and constant playmate as a child. We would spend hours climbing the sturdy, sprawling branches and pick armloads of fuzzy flowers. My girlfriends and I would pretend they were powder puffs or paintbrushes. My brother and his crew probably turned them into poison darts or feathers for their arrows.
We often mixed dirt and water to the perfect consistency for mud pies, stopping occasionally for a long drink from the hose. (Water never tasted better!) The Mimosa seeds were our decorations and we broke open the long bean-like pods to give us more variety with which to create our culinary masterpieces. I don’t know if the pods are poisonous or not, but we never took the chance to try and eat them. There was usually a bag of chips or saltines in the grass beside us to keep our appetites at bay until mom called us in for lunch.
My memories of those idyllic summer days are like golden threads, weaving the story of my life into a colorful and unique garment that I wear proudly as middle age marches forward. I thank God that I grew up in a time where playing outdoors, making mud pies, and wandering the neighborhood looking for cattails along the creek was safe. I can’t imagine a childhood without the freedom we enjoyed.
And I wonder…what will today’s children treasure about their childhood? The kids who are growing up addicted to screens and afraid to go outside because the world has become a dangerous and dark place, will they remember splashing in creeks and climbing trees? Do they even get a chance to do that anymore?
Mine did, and I will be sure my grandchildren do as well. I’m on the hunt for a Mimosa seedling to grace a spot near my house. I can just imagine it now, branches spread wide as the sunset illuminates the pink flowers from behind. It will bloom as the Tulip Poplars fade, dancing with the Crape Myrtles throughout the hot summer months. The memories those fuzzy flowers will create for the children who visit here are worth it. Our kids and grandkids only get to be children once. We will serve them well to ensure they experience what we enjoyed.
They deserve it and will be much healthier, happier humans for it.
Plant the tree.
Turn on the water and let it pour out of the hose.
Let them explore and come back sweaty and dirty, proudly holding a perfect mud pie as an offering.
Then, someday, they will see or smell something that triggers sweet memories of long summer days and play. They will remember and tell stories to their children of the years spent beneath a Mimosa Tree making the most amazing mud pies.