« Spring Ephemerals | Main | A Tale of Two Xmas Trees »

April 23, 2006

Mother Love

Each night before I turn in for bed, I check in on Graham, pulling covers up over his out sprawled arms and legs, smoothing back a lock of hair and allowing the caress of a tender cheek to wipe away the day’s frustrations and cares – both his and mine.

Graham sleeping. (Click image for larger)

As I lean in to give him a good night kiss, I sniff deeply of that heady aroma of sleeping child – sweat and sunshine, shampoo and joy. And I know in the very marrow of my bones that This Child is Mine.

I’ve read that smell is the most potent of the senses, attaching itself to events so powerfully that even a faint whiff of a scent can bring back long-forgotten memories.

It also acts as a recognition device, a reinforcement of maternal process. Even the day after Graham was born, I could have chosen him from an array of other babies, just from his individual scent.

I think it’s an ancient response for women, going back to when we were simple primates. Have you ever noticed that when a baby is presented to a gaggle of women, almost the first thing each one of them will do when handed the child is to hold the baby close and take a deep sniff? We all laugh that we “just love the smell of new baby� but what we’re really doing is testing for recognition. We sniff and think, “Yep, this smells good but it’s not mine.�

That imprint of aroma is like olfactory DNA, something so unique and singular that it cannot be replicated. Every animal mother can tell her child from the all others in a herd, even when there are hundreds of them.

So at night, when mothers everywhere tuck their little ones in to bed, we can sleep in peace, too, because we know This Child is Mine.

A mother’s nose knows, and it’s never wrong.

Deep Purple

With all the chartreuse leaves popping out on trees and cheery yellow daffodils in bloom, a garden’s deeper purple flowers and foliage can make a welcome change.

This spring my gardens contain wild prairie crocus...

Wild prairie crocus. (Click image for larger)

...snake’s head fritillary...

Snake’s head fritillary. (Click image for larger)

...and grape hyacinth.

Grape hyacinth. (Click image for larger)

From emerging hosta shoots...

Hosta shoots. (Click image for larger)

...to the ruffled edges of “Plum Pudding� heuchera...

“Plum Pudding� heuchera. (Click image for larger)

...and the stalks of “Husker Red� pensetemon,

“Husker Red� pensetemon. (Click image for larger)

...purplish leaves also add color and form.

And don’t forget the punch provided by the bright fuschia of Turkish tulips...

Turkish tulips. (Click image for larger)

...and waxy-leaved bergenia.

Bergenia. (Click image for larger)

What I’m Reading

Browsing through: “Foliage: Dramatic and Subtle Leaves for the Garden� by David Joyce.

Listening to: “Dragonfly in Amber – Part 1� by Diana Gabaldon. Continuing the tale of romantic Scottish time travel.

Graham’s current favorite: “Owen & Mzee: the True Story of a Remarkable Friendship� by Isabella Hatkoff and “What Do Illustrators Do?� by Eileen Christelow.

Today’s Grahamisms

Graham and I were out running errands one night last week when it began to rain quite hard. We rushed from a store to the van, trying not to get wet. As I buckled him into his booster seat, most of my body still outside the van, Graham said, “Oh, the water makes everything sparkle, even your butt.�

While walking down to Big Park on Medicine Lake, Graham said, “I think the Seven Wonders of the World is wrong. Howler monkeys should be on that list because when they howl it can be heard for seven miles.� Then he demonstrated by hooting at the top of his lungs, startling a nearby walker.

Graham’s class has been studying art for the past two weeks, and every day he brings home artwork that he has done in the style of Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt and others. One day, he announced, “My favorite artist today is Andy Warthog.�

Posted by maasx003 at April 23, 2006 12:44 PM | Books | Family | Gardens


I've never heard them called prairie crocus before; I've only known them as pasque flower. I want some of these for my garden but I am having a hard time finding a suitable place.

Posted by: Sylvana at June 10, 2006 8:28 AM