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  • Summer Nights Breath Life Into A Garden Of Remembrances
    (Grandma's Garden Yield's Magical Moments)

    Page 5
    Continued from page 4

    Italian Memories

    by Cookie Curci

    The next day, Nonna insisted I take home some seedlings from her garden: a piece of this, a smidgen of that, and a handful of her finest sunflower seeds. With care and decreation she searched carefully through her garden for the perfect seedlings-uprooting several oregano, chamomile and rosemary plants, including the bitter arugula. Every plant, that is, except parsley. It was Nonna's belief that to transplant parsley would bring bad luck. She believed that an unmarried woman who transplants parsley is destined to become an early widow. I'd learned early on not to doubt Nonna's Old World logic. If she believed it was so, then that was good enough for me. I didn't wish to tempt the fates over a little green herb.

    That was my last visit with Nonna. Today, her chamomile, oregano and arugula grow thickly along my garden fence. Her parsley, grown from seed, borders the steps along my walkway. Although I've never had occasion to use Nonna's plants to treat a bellyache, I feel better just knowing they're out there. Her tall, golden sunflowers grace my garden like her sunny smile. And, as I grow older, I've come to appreciate all that Nonna taught me. I treasure her old stories and beliefs, and I'm grateful she left behind a small part of herself that grows in a garden of remembrances that lives on and on.

    Like Nonna, I base much of my gardening skills on Old World ways and beliefs. A change in weather can be foretold by the fragrance of my garden; flowers smell the sweetest right before a summer rain; birds flying low foretells of a storm; dandelions and daisies close their blossoms when bad weather is on the way. A southern or easterly wind is likely to bring rain. A northerly or westerly wind announces fair weather ahead. When listening to the backyard crickets, Nonna used to say that their chirps per second varied according to the evening temperature. (A theory that has been proven true)

    On hot summer nights, when I open my bedroom window overlooking my garden, a sigh of sage, lavender, and sweet basil rise to greet me like Nonna's gentle touch. Her herbs and flowers are a gift of love that binds us and promises to keep us together through the years.

    Sometimes, on a rare, moonlit night, when a warm wind blows and night birds invade my sunflowers, my garden comes to life just for me- and somehow I know that pleases Nonna.

    Joseph Addison, in his wisdom once wrote, "The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." Nonna found all of these in her beloved garden.

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