Memory Triggers by Nancy Eady
Take the example of a blooming pear tree. February is winding to a close here in the deep South, and Spring is making an unseasonably warm appearance with the trees, shrubs and flowers blooming in swift succession.
The first signs of spring are the daffodils and the forsythia bushes, better known as yellowbells. Shortly after or while they are blooming, the tulip trees burst out with their pink and white blooms, and then the pear trees.
The flowers of pear trees are white and small compared to the large tulip tree blooms but they still show up because nothing else much is blooming and because they fill up the entire tree. A pear tree in bloom throws itself into the process. It doesn’t dally, shilly-shally, or shyly peek forward a bloom at a time. It personifies the verb “to blossom.”
Pear trees always remind me of my dad-in-law, who passed away in 2001. This is an odd association in some ways, because he didn’t particularly love spring flowers or pears. Like most people, he was always glad to see signs that spring was coming, but he didn’t rejoice in the flowers the way I do, the way that makes my teenage daughter look at me sideways and say, “Mom, get a grip.”
So where does the association come from? For the five years I was in law school (I went part time, three nights a week with two summers off), he and my Mom-in-law fed me supper every night I had class – and they were happy to do so. They enjoyed having me there. One day in March in the mid-90’s during supper, Mark’s Dad mentioned to me that he had seen some of the white flowered trees blooming in a field. He said they were dogwoods, but I was pretty sure it was too early for the dogwoods to have started. So I drove by the field that afternoon on my way to school, and realized that he was talking about the wild pear trees that had colonized the abandoned field and turned what would otherwise have been an eyesore into an attractive harbinger of spring.
I don’t know what makes that memory stand out, but ever since then, when I see the pear trees in bloom, I not only celebrate the nearness of spring, but also remember fondly a man who meant a great deal to me.
What sights and sounds do you see that trigger memories in you?