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Lily of the Valley

“Sita closed her eyes and breathed into her cupped hands. Before she left, she had remembered to perfume her wrist with Muguet. 
The faint odor of that flower, so pure and close to the earth, was comforting. She had planted real lilies of the valley because she liked them so much as a perfume.
Just last fall, before the hard freeze, when she was feeling back to normal, the pips had arrived in a little white box. Her order from a nursery company. She'd put on her deerskin gloves and, on her knees, using a hand trowel, dug a shallow trench along the border of her blue Dwarf iris. Then one by one she'd planted the pips. They looked like shelled acorns, only tinier. "To be planted points upward," said a leaflet in the directions. They came up early in the spring. The tiny spears of their leaves would be showing soon.
Lying there, sleepless, she imaged their white venous roots, a mass of them fastening together, forming new shoots below the earth, unfurling their stiff leaves. She saw herself touching their tiny bells, waxed white, fluted, and breathing the ravishing fragrance they gave off because Louis had absently walked through her border again, dragging his shovel, crushing them with his big, careless feet. 
It seemed as though hours of imaginary gardening passed before Mrs. Waldvogel tiptoed in without turning on the light.” 
― Louise ErdrichThe Beet Queen

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Reader Comments (7)

(1) I love Lily of the Valley (they are my month flower), (2) Mine are coming up and yesterday I saw tiny stems and buds forming (3) I adore black and white versions of them in photographs! This is beautiful Cheryl, and I love the words from the book you've found. Yesterday I hoed up my flower garden space, cut away old growth and finally planted my long awaited heirloom sweet pea seeds (hope, hope), and moved the clematis. It was a busy day in the gardens, and it felt so good to move around, get out the tools, wear my gloves, and feel the spring sun on my face. Pictures waiting to come alive and reveal the work. More seeds to plant now. I hope you have a patch of Lily of the Valley flowers. I love seeing the really large wrapped bunches in flowers stalls from France, in photos.

April 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly

I love that little story! How wonderful!

April 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Thomas

I wish I could put into words the memories and feelings I get whenever I see or smell the heavenly aroma of Lily of the Valley! When our oldest daughter got married 15 years ago, we drove out to Michigan with these plants in the back of our car! Can you imagine the fragrance? To me it's not spring until they have risen and are ready to come into our house in little bunches! LOVE this post, Cheryl! xox

April 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAntoinette

I loved reading this, Cheryl, and the photograph is beautiful.

April 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Gordon

Lily of the Valley flowers are so pretty. I use to have some, they came with the house, but the deer have made their path right through them and we haven't had any bloom for a few years now. Maybe I should plant some in a different spot...

April 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle B

I love lily of the valleys!

April 20, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterpam

This conjures up all kinds of wonderful memories for me. I had forgotten all about they still make that fragrance? And my mom had a garden full of Lily of the Valley. When we had our house built back in 1990, the first thing I did was to dig up some of those lilies from her garden and transplant them by our new home. Every May, I look forward to seeing them and smelling their wonderful scent. Your image is so gentle and lovely and Louise Erdrich is one of my favorite authors. Thank you for this beautiful post, Cheryl.

April 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

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