My Mother’s Green Pearls – by Yeunhee Cho (Adult)

I take a shawl and a hat and step outside to the garden.  The flower bed is barren and covered in snow. But the evergreen shrubs keep their poise and assure me that all is okay.  I close my eyes and take a big inhale and relish the refreshing cold of the winter. As I exhale and open my eyes I see something.  Why didn’t I notice this before? How did I miss it? I walk towards the stream below the hill where I was standing. Plum Blossoms.  
The flowers take me to early summer when the fruits ripen and my mother used to pick them to make pickles and syrups.  Whenever I complained about stomach cramps or indigestion she’d bring me a cup of hot water with a spoonful of plum syrup.  And the tangy and sweet taste and the soothing assurance of my mother would work like magic to alleviate any discomfort.  
When my mother was pregnant with me she said she had terrible morning sickness.  And green plums were about the only thing that helped her to get through the enduring nine months.  And that’s how she became the expert in what she called “the green pearls.” In the early summer she was in search of the best plums and traveled south to the largest plantation where they had more than fifty types of plum blossoms.  And in her hands nothing was wasted. The seeds were crushed to fill the inside of a pillow to cool the body and the delicate petals were carefully dried and brewed.   
The sound of pattering rain and the humongous glass jars full of fermented plums and the faith of the mother to heal the child’s pain warms my heart as I gently touch the petal of plum blossom.  Just like the fiery heart of a loving mother, the petal is soft but vibrantly red as my own blood. And the beauty of resilience unfurls before my eyes as the red flowers continue to bloom in the midst of frozen snow.
Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Fleur 2020-02 Plum Blossom
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