Lazy mid-afternoon, thick shade trees holding the heat at bay. Old woman, old garden. Both sleeping, wrapped in a blanket of summer, taking deep contented breaths, dreaming of rain, of water. Interweaving past and present. Encircling all, a charm of hummingbirds.
The groom’s mother places a lilac crown on my dark hair, hands me a basket of petals. I sprinkle them on the dusty path, admiring the cascade of pale purple. One dew-drop survived the heat. I lean into it, see myself reflected there.
Commotion at the door. Reporters, flashing bulbs. Carrie’s calm voice – “She’s resting.”
“Where’s the flower girl?” Mama’s gentle response – “Said she was thirsty.”
Lucy steps into my secret space, hidden among the trumpet vines, next to the cool spring. “Ma-maw Carrie said you fell in love with water. After a wedding. When you were little, like me.”
So quiet in the woods, filtered sunlight rippling through the trees, making them shiver and dance. Sound of splashing. Water swirling over rocks, flashing blue and silver. I kneel, I cup my hands. I drink deeply.
“Yes I did.” Ocean eyes full of wonder. “Tasted like stones singing, like flowing forests.” Wisps of hair catch a slight breeze as she nods. “I know.” I think she does know.
Sudden rainstorm sends guests scattering over the rivulets of lilac petals, makes me laugh out loud, still kneeling by the river. Water in my hands, in my hair, pouring down from the lilac crown like a bridal veil. “I will,” I whisper.
Carrie unfolds a newspaper clipping from exactly one year ago, reads it to the reporters. “Ms. Helen Hoffman, famous conservationist, celebrates her 87th birthday quietly, at home, with close friends and clean water.” She adds “This year the same”, guides them out the door, joins us for the ceremony. We dip our cups into the spring. We drink deeply. It tastes like promises kept, a life well lived, silvery blue hope. We lean back in peaceful silence, watching tiny green hummingbirds disappear into red flowers.