The flora of home

The other day, quite by accident, I was able to put a semi-familiar word with a very familiar object. Hydrangea. I knew the name from books, but, as with most plant life, I didn’t know what a hydrangea bush looked like. Well, that’s what I thought. Turned out I knew exactly what one looked like because we had one beside the porch of the house where I grew up in Enid. We just called in the snowball bush. There’s a picture of one here, just in case you share my previous ignorance.

I have some pretty fond memories of that shrub. When we were young – early grade school – my sister Lisa and I and neighbor kids would sometimes play house on the porch and those nice white flowers would play the role of crops we harvested for food. (We didn’t really eat them.) Of course, being a boy, I’d also dig holes, build twig bridges, and smooth out roads in the dirt around the bush.

No meal would be complete with only one dish. The most common thing served with our white hydrangea flowers were the pink flowers and dark seeds (subbing for beans) of the mimosa tree from the back yard. Now that was a tree full of memories! The tree had split about two feet from the ground and grew in three separate directions. The tallest of these had a nice three-pronged saddle maybe 10 feet off the ground. From that saddle we could see the Broadway Tower in the downtown area. My dad would never let me build a tree house in that tree, but me and my friends used it a lot, mostly in war games, for shade over my canvas tent, or shade when we were target practicing with my bow or Red Ryder BB gun. Sadly, the tree died at some point after I left home and it had to be removed. Even more sad is that Lisa and I were responsible for killing it because we stripped the bark off one of those spokes as kids.

We had a tall elm tree when we moved into the house, but the only thing I really remember about it was my dad and uncle and neighbor getting rid of it. Dad used his 1964 Ford truck to pull it down. It left a big crater in the back yard that was fun to play in … until Mom said the wet spots in the dirt were from raw sewage.

We had one other tree. A fraser fir that was pretty small when we moved in, but grew to be huge before Mom and Dad moved away about 10 years ago. It was a lot fatter than this Christmas tree version in the picture. One summer we had problems with a certain kind of bird attacking our golden retriever, a neighbor cat, and even my mom. The bird was pulling out hair to make its nest in the fir tree. Maybe you don’t know it, but I have a bird phobia (thank you, Alfred Hitchcock). Well, one day I waited on the back porch until that bird came home from doing whatever it was doing (probably attacking more innocent mammals), and I capped it with the above-mentioned BB gun. Years later I learned that bird was a mockingbird, and I have to say I completely disagree with Atticus Finch on the value of that particular bird.


Today’s trip down Memory Lane has been brought to you by Big Blue Pants. Covering fat yellow butts for 14 years, Big Blue Pants.

5 responses to “The flora of home”

  1. Hmmm…usually what we call a snowball bush is a viburnum, which blooms in spring. The Hydrangea blooms later into the summer….

  2. I have to agree with Kathleen on the snowball bush probably being a viburnum – hydrangeas do come in white, but almost all I’ve seen planted in our Okie red dirt have turned blue (the color of the flower changes based on the acidity of the soil)
    Mimosa trees are very cool – don’t those blooms look like they fell right out of a fantasy novel? BTW, I really doubt that you guys killed the tree – totally anecdotal observations, but I don’t think their lifespan is more than about 25 years. They mature pretty fast, but then they’re done relatively quickly.

    1. All right, ladies, I will bow to your more learned opinions on the type of bush. I’d kind of like to have another one, but I’m not sure it would survive my kids and the neighbor kids.

  3. I look forward to your books written after going through this experience -it’ll be interesting to see the changes.

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