If we were to begin at the beginning, I would tell you that my mother loved poppies. They seemed so exotic and looked like they’d be hard to grow, when in fact, they thrived in her sandy soil. She learned to propagate them from tiny shoots that formed once the flowers faded and the plants died back in the summer. Sun-loving poppies, with their deep tap roots, were out of the question when I moved into my very old, Civil War-era house with its heavy clay soil and dark shade from overgrown maples and fir trees.
But one summer, in a neglected lot, next to an abandoned house up the road, I spied these poppies growing in profusion in thigh-high grass. The house was built by the same person who built mine. His story is lost to time as will be the house, which has been abandoned by our Village and the larger town. Some years ago, they purchased it from the tax rolls with the hope of preserving history, but then dithered so long that decay now seems irreversible.
My dear friend and neighbor loved those poppies too. We had long conversations one summer about where they came from and if they could be transplanted into her sunnier gardens. Sadly, she passed away before she could sneak over and harvest the tiny new shoots. Now she, too, is lost to time and yet these poppies come back, every year, defying the odds and triumphing over the chaos of loss and decline.