May 19, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. The peonies are blooming here in Holly County. Most every yard has at least one bush. Nobody knows who planted the first bush in Holly County. Some early settler must have carried a bulb in from Virginia, because, to hear people tell it, every bush since has been started from it. Nobody went to the greenhouse. A few bulbs were dug up from that first bush and given to a neighbor and then that neighbor gave a bulb or two to their neighbors and soon the whole county is blooming with peonies.
That’s okay with me. I love peonies. I like their spicy smell and their big fluffy blooms. My Mama Mae had some bushes that I used to jump over just because I wanted to see if I could. She never fussed at me even if I knocked down a bloom now and again. She did always hope it wouldn’t rain while the peony bushes were in full bloom so the flowers wouldn’t get so heavy that they fell down on the ground. If it did rain, she’d get her scissors and cut the fallen ones to fill a vase with the luscious flowers. Then the whole house would smell peony spicy.
I miss Mama Mae. She died one spring when I was nine. She was planting tulips and the Lord decided he needed her up in heaven. I’m thinking the flower gardens are prettier up there now. She liked all kinds of flowers, but she loved the peonies. She used to tell me this old saying, “A rose is a rose, but a peony is a friend forever.” She said that was because once you planted them, you just let them grow and bless you year after year with blooms.
I liked it when Mama Mae told me old sayings about flowers. I wish I could remember more of them. I should have written them down but when you’re a little kid the way I was then, you don’t think about stuff like that. But here’s one that Aunt Love says sometimes. “A beautiful flower begins its life in dirt.”
But then the Bible says the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed life into him. So guess we can all be glad of a little dirt.
Do you like peonies? Do you have any in your yard? If you do, they might come from that first bush in some Hollyhill yard.