Saturday, October 15, 2011


Our back-door Luck Bush is doing her ruby-red thing right now, turning in her Summer-green gown for a red-velvety number which could grace any number of Fall parties---especially the one being thrown all over the neighborhood about now.

Luck Bush was one of the few plants, other than a mighty stand of trees, which came with the house---the former owners did not care for ornament of any kind---indeed, I marveled that the real estate preparers had made the house so spic and span, with not even ONE nail-hole in the walls.    And then I found that the lady of the house did not like ANYTHING on walls or tabletops---such mess made her nervous, even when she came to our open house after we bought it and put up things and put out things (a fraction of what holds sway today, with our cluttery rooms and well-filled walls and all our propensities for just setting things DOWN and leaving them there---a glimpse of the NOW would probably send her into a swoon).

But when I started digging in the bare (especially for end of Summer) flowerbeds, about an inch under the soil, I found miles of heavy black netty stuff, guaranteed to discourage and destroy any plant life trying to push through---we’re still trying to rip it all out, or at least make holes to accommodate the hostas and other plants.

But the Luck Bush was a good-sized something-or-other, prized by her rarity in this sparse yard.    She triumphed by sheer will, I think, for her limbs seem to grow lusher and longer overnight, and have to be pruned mercilessly during the season, to avoid her grabbing at passersby and scratching car varnish.   

Bush turns reddish in Fall, and was seized upon as a passable “flower” by our Gracie when she was very small and living with us for so long.     Whenever anyone, family or guest, headed for a vehicle to leave, she’d run for the bush, grabbing a leaf and handing it in through the window.   And now Chris still has an ever-crisping pile of little Luck Leaves wisping their way into crumbs in the console and ashtray, for Sweetpea took up the torch and keeps him supplied with one per exit, every day that she’s here.    And we hand her one, as she leaves us in the afternoon. 

The sitting-room windows are shaded in green in Spring and Summer, hazing into a rosy glow as the Autumn changes come.   The changing shade and the carrying on of a sweet little tradition---handing out Good Luck and Traveling Grace in the form of greenery or reddery from grubby little hands---those are family things, our own things, which make this Home.   And every time a Luck Leaf goes into a departing hand, my heart goes with it.


steelersandstartrek said...

How charming! While we do not have a specific tree for our tradition, a few decades ago The Child and I developed a little exchange that became an annual rite of passage for us. Driving around on autumn errands or, more usually, running the perennially tardy Child to school as a kid, we'd pass the lovely maples and ginkos and beeches and birches that are the first to take the color in this area. (The oaks come later in the season, and frequently just go from green to brown and then hang there on the trees until March.) Seeing the maples with the first outer leaves touched with flame, I'd always point to them and tell Her "Look - the ladies are getting out their party clothes!" And She would get excited and ask if we could go for a walk soon through the leaves. As the days passed and the green gave way to the reds and yellows, I'd update the patter to "Look -- the ladies are all dressed up for the dance!" This innocent exchange took on more sinister tones once The Child began to point out that the trees frequently started giving up their fall leaves from the tops of the trees before the bottom. Thus, the narrative shifted to her voice - "Oh look, dad, the ladies are taking OFF their party dresses!" To which I always responded, "The drunken hussies!"

Even now as she closes in on 30, we share one or more frames of this exchange every year. Silly, I know. But I am coming to believe that these silly memories are what will keep us warm as our lives approach our own personal winters.

Southern Lady said...

What a glorious tree, and such a sweet tradition. And to be able to enjoy its beauty from your sitting room is pure lagniappe.

Kim Shook said...

As you can see from my husband's wonderful response, we are a family of traditions, silly songs we make up and beloved family language. I knew that your family was the same way and I love hearing about them. The dancing to Mr. Joe, the hotel room slumber parties with the grands and now the luck tree - I love hearing of all of them! Thank you again, my friend for being so generous with your life!

Beverly said...

Oh, if only everyone had their very own luck tree. Just think of the joy-filled world. You are so blessed to have sweet little hearts to share the wonder and love.

I've missed you. I've been so busy that I haven't been a very good visitor.♥