She loved zinnias. Those sweet, easy-going posies that lined our walkways and fences all summer long. In the late spring, she’d start a patch or a row with a handful of seeds she’d saved from the season before. Every year after that, they’d be back on their own.
They’d grow tall and thick as hedges with strong, woody stems and faces dense with tiny petals of hot pink or yellow or green. I think she sprinkled them with magic when I wasn’t looking because even in the most scorching, dry summer, they were strewn about the house in little jars or vases with plenty more of their sisters still growing outside. People driving by would even stop and ask her how she kept them so happy in the middle of drought.
I remember the smell of their stems when we cut them to bring them inside. They smelled like cut grass and old wood, spicy and strong. When I smell them now, I think of her fingers in summer, hard at work, stained faintly green and perfumed with that simple country scent bought only with sunshine and rain.