An old man in overalls and a beat up ball cap was standing on the edge of a Saturday farmer’s market at a Nashville church. He had several plastic grocery store bags next to him. He would talk to people as they left. In the way of city people, some would walk by and never acknowledge his existence. Others would stop and chat. Some took what he was offering and some did not.
As I was leaving, he offered me two Iris bulbs. What was left of the farm where he had grown up was about to start growing McMansions. He had gone back for the Irises that his mother had tended and loved over the years. As he told me about his mother and the Irises he was transported to another time. I could see the light in his eyes. These bags were all that were left of a place that a city is paving over and people are leaving behind for bigger and manicured. He was giving away the bulbs to preserve the time, love and joy that his mother had experienced and shared while she walked this earth.
He asked where I was going plant the bulbs so I told him about the farm in Kentucky. How the house was over 100 years old and how we had Irises around the farm that had been planted by previous families. He gave me a whole bag of bulbs. This is where he wanted them to be.
Our only meeting was ten years ago, give or take. Every spring when the Irises bloom I think of that man and his love of his mother and that farm.