“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.”
A Saturday stroll at Longwood Gardens had me stopping to smell the roses and learn about some history for a few hours. This Mother’s Day weekend I decided to take my mom to Longwood, a place she visited ones many years ago, on a school trip, she told me. As we walked through manicured gardens we talked about the flowers, shared our favorite assortments, and cheered with children when the fountains lit up the lawn.
My mother and I have been cohabitating for the last four years after an unexpected move back home. We’ve learned quite a lot about each other, and about ourselves. As I prepare to move out at the end of the month, we will go out into the world and live our lives, and the short four years will be a fond memory. She’s hemmed countless pairs of pants, made me dinners and lunches, prepared coffee and tea, and eagerly listened to my tales of travel and plans for the future. I’ve enjoyed learning about family history and her own personal tragedies and triumphs in life.
Our trip to the gardens reminded me of the garden I had when I had moved from my home in uptown Harrisburg in 2015, near where my new apartment is located. I didn’t have anything near as exquisite or maintained, and most of the work I’d done was with the help of friends and roommates. But it reminded me that I love the smells of the plants and flowers. The past few years have been challenging for me, commuting to work 40 minutes each way, five days a week. I’m not one to complain, it was all part of my later-devised plan to become debt free, which I am, as of this week.
Looking back, when I came back to my hometown, it was uncomfortable, being a 35-year-old having to move back in with a parent. I wasn’t having the mindset of a person transitioning to become debt free at the time, all I saw was the commute, sharing a small space, and being in a town that didn’t bring back fond memories. To the contrary, I had memories of being the “awkward teen” who didn’t get along with others and only had a handful of friends. But over the years here, I fell in love with this quaint little town. I enjoyed stopping into the shops on Main Street now and then. I was even recognized by a shop owner as “the jogger” when voting on election day. I had felt that after years living here as a young adult, I finally saw what others did about this town, it’s charm and grace. When I move, I’ll miss my morning walks to the park near my home. I cherish watching the seasons change as I took my three-mile hike.
Our afternoon at Longwood was a wonderful break from the work week. From the aroma of the Japanese wisteria to the subtle sounds of bees buzzing around the azalea bushes, the afternoon weather was delightful for enjoying the gardens without too many people around. Although there were moments where we walked slower than those around us, and we let them pass. I was reminded to slow down and take my time. Life is fleeting, and as I work and create, write, and capture photographs of these amazing places I visit, I always try to remind myself to slow down.