My Grandmother’s cactus blooms in my mother’s yard now. It’s a prickly pear; paddle-shaped with lemon-colored flowers.
On Arlington Court, the plants tell stories. Even the ones that are gone.
There was a paw-paw tree by number 17 for years; from it I tasted paw-paw for the first time. It was like a custard with a slight citrus flavor – maybe lemon or lime. I had paw-paw ice cream once, from Ellen’s on Capitol Street. Neither it or the raw fruit agreed much with my stomach, but I’m glad I ate it anyway.
One year, before Susan died, we decorated the paw-paw tree for Christmas with old CD’s. Many of them were promotional copies from my job at the radio station (bad music). I remember stepping out on the porch roof from the second floor window to hang CD’s on the branches.
They turned and glittered like a strobe light; the teenagers brought out a boom-box and played Dancing Queen by ABBA.
The tree is gone now. It had a big split in it that couldn’t be fixed. It was hard to let go; but we knew it had to be done.
It will always live in my mind – the tree that made us dance.