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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham


Sunday, March 3, 2013

herald Spring.

Growing up in and around Huntsville, Alabama,
dogwoods were always part of Spring for me.
Downtown Huntsville has many streets of 
antebellum houses built using cotton plantation money,
and the houses are surrounded by lush gardens.

As a young girl, I would beg my parents and grandparents to drive 
on those streets every time I went to town with them. 

As the first-born child of my grandparent's first-born child,
they indulged me.  
Up one street and down the next, up the next street, and down the next,
until we had zig-zagged a path traveling
every street with the mansions. 
I would press my face to the car window, 
turning my head from one side of the street to the other 
trying not to miss a single blossom on any tree.  I would twist my
head around to stare out the back window as we turned off
the last street of antebellum houses.

Then we traveled by Maple Hill Cemetery, begun in 1822, and
burial site of many Alabama dignitaries including governors, senators,
confederate leaders, and the founder of Studebaker cars.

The houses grow smaller the further one travels from town center, 
but those streets are also filled with dogwoods.

My heart longs to see these trees every Spring,
even though I moved from there almost forty-five years ago.
Each time I visited my family during dogwood blooming time,
I asked my Texas-born husband to drive us up and down
the streets of Huntsville just as my parents did so many years before.
He always smiled and took the turns I told him
so we could see every street.  
My window rolled down, 
with a slight breeze blowing across my face,
I too smiled, and held my hand out the window
to catch the wind beneath the white and pink trees.

And many times, he would stop, and let me walk the petal-strewn sidewalks.