Seasons and My Mammaw
Cindy Kay Plumly
Spring and summer have always been welcomed seasons to me. I realize that here in South Georgia, we really don’t experience sharp seasonal changes like other parts of the country, but any time the temperature dips below seventy degrees, I consider it cold. Spring eases in mildly. I notice the leaves beginning to unfurl, flowers blooming, neighbors cutting grass. That smell of fresh cut grass is one of my favorites. It is not one of those slow, creep-up-on-you smells. It is immediate and amazingly strong, completely enveloping you. Spring days are bright–so bright that it hurts your eyes. Objects appear crisp and clear. No blurring of edges into background. Strong, bold lines allow you to distinguish every leaf, every petal, every fold in a butterfly wing. The sights and smells are overwhelming at times, taking me back to my childhood. Back to a time when my brother and I would hit the ground running every Saturday morning. During the regular school week, you had to drag my brother out of bed. But on Saturday, we were both up at the crack of dawn. Early spring has a special smell–it fills you up and there is nothing like it in all the world. I recently made a trip to a local nursery to buy pine straw for my yard. The minute I stepped into the building that houses the pine straw bales, my senses were on overload. I closed my eyes and could see my brother and myself building pine straw forts in the woods. Some days our forts were elaborate structures with doors and windows and partitioned rooms. Other days (when we were in a hurry to get down to the business of playing), the structure would be very basic. We would stack the straw as high as we possibly could, bouncing ugly comments off of each other when our wall collapsed. Of course, it is always your sibling’s fault when something goes wrong during fort building.
Saturdays would come and go until school was finally out for summer vacation. Although the weather was much hotter, we didn’t care. Summer has a different smell, you know. It seems “heavier” somehow. And as the summer days move along, that smell changes again. It becomes almost urgent–like we have to hurry because something is getting ready to happen. The days look different as well. The colors around me are changing–becoming more muted. It’s as if the days are growing tired. When September rolls around, that “something” happens. The month starts out strong–still reveling in summer. But something changes. One day, the warm breezes give way to a slight chill. Ever so brief but ever so noticeable. When I was much younger, that brief “cool snap” reminded me of school–new notebooks, paper, pencils, clothes. The smell of that zippered pouch I always kept my eraser and pencil sharpener in. However, like all else, childhood thoughts give way to others. My September memories changed in 1985. I remember that day so clearly–as if it happened just yesterday. I was 23 years old. My grandmother died on September 11, 1985. Mammaw’s funeral was held on Friday, September 13. Up until that day, the temperature was still sweltering. When you woke up, it was hot. When you went to bed, it was hot. Graveside services began at 4pm. As the family gathered under the graveside tent, a soft breeze made its way over the casket. I can remember the direction the breeze was blowing because I can see the beautiful roses on the coffin swaying and bending toward me. What begins as short, warm gusts of air gives way to sharp, chilly winds. As silly as it sounds, my first thought was “I am glad Mammaw has her sweater on – it’s going to be cold tonight.” That exact thought crosses my mind every year at this same time.
Spring and summer are times of new beginnings. Everything is waking up, stretching, making itself known. The first cool winds of fall mean it’s time to rest. The ground grows cold, and the trees and flowers go to sleep. But my Mammaw is okay–she has her sweater.