Back in the 60s, before her creative spirit was broken by a non-fatal brain hemorrhage, my mother’s dried floral arrangements were the stuff of local legend. Nipponese constructions, as I remember them. Twisty, turny things, spare and dramatic, distinctly apart from the staid bouquets cranked out by her contemporaries at the Sumter Garden Club. Unlike her raku, her macrame, her decoupage, her piano playing and her acrylics, my mother’s arrangements won awards. Blue ribbons aplenty. She spent days building, tearing down and rebuilding them, bending wire and clipping stems, working long into the night, sometimes until morning.
Winter is the best time of year to collect the raw materials she used. Milkweed seedpods, thistle heads, something she mistakenly called “Jerusalem oak” and I haven’t been able to find in years. It was a freeform exercise for her, as it is for me on the rare occasion that I jab a few sticks into a chunk of florist foam and call it art.
I dedicate my Christmas tree this year to year to my mother. And to Charlie Brown.