If someone asked my three sisters what plum blossom means to them, they would get three completely different answers.
My eldest sister, Lisa, looks forward to the fruit emerging after the beautiful blossom falls to the ground. She loves to make jam; jars and jars of delicious sweet preserves filling her pantry and ours.
My second sister, Helen, is an artist and loves to paint the delicate blooms contrasted against an azure sky at sunset or captured during a late snowfall with snowflakes clinging to the branches. Her paintings hang on all our walls.
And my third sister, Julie, is the gardener who tends the plum trees, feeding them through the seasons with compost, mulching in warmer weather and trimming wayward branches in early winter to encourage new growth.
And me? I often contemplated as I ate jam on thick slices of fresh brown bread, beneath Helen’s latest painting on the wall with a bowl of freshly picked plums on the table before me, what could I, the baby sister in the family, do? Through our childhood I often despaired that creative talent had run out by the time it got to me, the unexpected sister who came to our parents ten years after Lisa, Helen and Julie who are very close in age.
“You’re a late bloomer,” consoled my mother, and so I continued to eat jam, admire the paintings and wander through the garden inhaling the perfumes unique to each season. But still I longed for a special talent all my own.
“Aunty, will you please tell me a story?” asked my niece Emma, Lisa’s eldest daughter, when I visited one afternoon in late winter.
She climbed onto my knee and I told her a tale of plum blossom and wonderful adventures four sisters enjoyed through their childhood.
I looked up to see Lisa staring in amazement. “Laura, your stories are wonderful. Perhaps…”
So now, as I eat my bread and jam, beneath Helen’s painting, beside a bowl of Julie’s fresh flowers, I hold a copy of my first book…dedicated to my wonderful sisters.