Bluets: The Things That Aren’t Things


Of all the flowers in my garden, these sweet bluets (Houstonia caerulea) rank way up on my favorites list. There’s a reason for this simple spring ephemeral’s prominent place in my garden and heart. When my youngest daughter was about seven years old, she went down to the little stream by our house and dug a clump of these to give me for Mother’s Day. I saw her trudging up the trail carrying a cumbersome red bucket, arms pulled down by the weight of it, skinny legs struggling step by step. She didn’t know I was watching, but I was that mother that always watched as her children thought they played freely outside. I wanted them to know the freedom of a feral childhood like I had experienced, but I also wanted them to be safe, this was a different time and place.
But, I digress.
She made her way to the front yard and using the child-sized trowel that I had bought her and her sister, she began digging holes in the front yard. When she was finished planting the bluets, she poured the water from the red bucket and stepped back to survey her work. A few minutes later, she appeared in the house, muddy and with little beads of perspiration forming around her hairline and eyebrows, strands of her messy ponytail sticking to her sun-reddened face. She grabbed my hand and said, “Come outside with me. You have to close your eyes. No peeking!” I took her tiny hand in mind and she led me out the door and into the yard.

“Open your eyes, nowwww!” She shouted. “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!”

Lo and behold, a small mud puddle with drowned bluets and a little girl with arms outstretched pointing toward this labor of love, face beaming proud, appeared in front of me. “Ta-da!” 

From this first tiny clump, these bluets have spread to cover a good chunk of my front yard. I treasure this patch of flowers as much as my entire garden. No! More, I treasure it more. Because I’m reminded of the love and thoughtfulness of a beautiful brown-eyed girl some 21 years ago. I wouldn’t trade these bluets for the rarest orchids or the most majestic oaks. 

I still get wonderful gifts for Mother’s Day, holidays, and birthdays. Her budget allows for more expensive giving. But she knows that I treasure the little things, the simple things. The things that, really, aren’t even “things.” Like these bluets that grace my yard every spring and fill my heart with joy and love.

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