Magnolia-opus 3

Photo shared by the author.
Photo shared by the author. | Source

With it decided that the new house must have new landscaping at its front entrance-way, plans were made to see about choosing some landscaping plants to enhance the newly sodded front yard and the as yet non-embellished sidewalk leading from the driveway to the front porch.

Marion wanted to hire a landscaping firm to do the honors but Tim won that discussion. He would handle it himself and it would serve as a pleasant hobby and diversion, allowing him to work with his hands out-of-doors, hopefully without too much "coaching from the sidelines" from Marion! He could certainly use a break from the office as well as from performing "honey-do" chores on weekends at home! He didn't complain about them, but they'd all but crowded out all his other preferred hobbies, most of which involved ample outdoors time!

He knew he had good taste, a genuine green thumb and a "way with plants". He'd spent many a summer of his youth on his uncle's farm helping with the chores and developing a love for the land and for growing things which he'd never lose till his dying day. So he was fully confident that his venture with the front yard would please even his picky wife - possibly her even pickier mother!

So one Saturday soon after settling into the new home, Tim, who was a frustrated horticulturist at heart anyway, though a professional engineer by training and career, took his lads off to a nursery on a mission to acquire some suitable landscaping plants for both the new home's front entrance and yard and to scout for ideas for enhancing the large back area. This backyard area was accessible from the family room through large sliding glass patio doors leading onto the patio where they'd placed the umbrella table and its chairs. From this patio stretched an expansive pie-shaped yard, soon to be grassy and hopefully, landscaped.   It had a potential for becoming an extension of the living area inside which was so perfect and inviting for having parties and get-togethers.  Tim also visualized a vegetable garden out there, though that was probably in the distant future.  It was a pleasant thought but for now he was focused on the front yard and quite excited about its possibilities!

It was a glorious sunny day and he decided to take the boys with him, since he had so few real opportunities to have them to himself on a "guy-only" mission. They were thrilled to get to go with Dad, especially little Sonny who was naturally quiet and had become even more so lately. So the chance to get out with Dad and do something that really interested him was a real treat. His eyes were sparkling as they neared the nursery!

Activity is his middle name!
Activity is his middle name!
To each his own!
To each his own!
Junior loved playing ball!
Junior loved playing ball!
Snappy stuff!
Snappy stuff!
What wondrous things!
What wondrous things!
This is wonderful!
This is wonderful!
Bedazzling!
Bedazzling!

By contrast, Junior was naturally outgoing and quite an active - direct-approach boy. He didn’t get too many chances at home to be rambunctious, but that was more his nature. He was also attracted to "doing" things. He'd long-since figured out how to avoid trouble, though and cultivated an easy going, pleasing disposition. He always seemed to know just the right thing to say or do and how to stay in good graces. But he hadn’t personally experienced the kind of consideration which lies behind natural gracious charm, which Tim actually had always taken for granted and in stride.

But Junior had experienced enough of his parents’ attention to value it and to know how to get it. So long as it was favorable, he had no reason to consider whether there could be more to good manners. His life was satisfying. He loved team sports and was a well-liked team member in the sports he played and an enthusiastic supporter of others. This came naturally and was a good outlet for his social skills, when he wasn’t walking the thin line to please his parents and occasionally, his grandparents.

Marion was over-protective and didn’t allow him to participate in the "dangerous" sports, but he rode his bicycle around the neighborhood and played and starred on his grade’s softball team at school. These were activities he would love for a lifetime, in fact. Tim was supportive of his eldest son's athletic ability. His academic and extracurricular accomplishments won him an honorable place both at school and in the family.

At the nursery when they arrived, Junior went off to examine the equipment and to admire the variety of types of shiny sprinklers and shovels. He liked plants just fine but his interest was more in the "how-to" aspects of gardening. There seemed to be an unending array of interesting gardening tools and accessories.

Sonny, now six years old, wandered off too, looking with fascination at the rows of tables laden with plants of all description, inhaling the fragrance of their new green leaves and in some cases, sniffing and even touching the velvety petals of their gorgeous colorful flowers. He glanced around to make sure no one was watching or about to censure him. But he was so thrilled thinking that any of these plants could be transplanted into fertile ground somewhere they would call home. His eyes were a shine with delight as he moved among them! He almost forgot to be worried about getting into trouble as he skipped from one row to the next.

There were seeds and seedlings, as well, packaged or presented invitingly, begging for love and attention from some seasoned gardener - or would-be gardener.

Sonny was fascinated. Never had he seen so many beautiful plants and young trees begging for his attention. He felt stirred by some primordial urge to rescue them - or at least one or two of them. He ran back to Dad to ask whether or not he could buy one to plant. "Please, please, Daddy - I NEEEED it!" He looked so earnest and sounded so urgent. Tim looked into his little face and his heart just melted.

Money still wasn't flush, especially after the purchase of the new house and furnishings, but it was certainly sufficient for the boy to buy himself a plant to place somewhere and learn to tend with tender, loving care. His thought about Sonny's being a rather withdrawn kid, despite his fresh sparkly blue eyes in a perfectly oval face and this sudden display of interest and enthusiasm seemed promising. Smiling and excited now as Sonny was with his whole face beaming, Tim was happy to tell him "of course - go pick one out for yourself!"

A plant of my very own!
A plant of my very own!

Off he skipped back to the tables and rows of glorious plants, thinking how this would require a lot of careful selecting. Not just any old plant would do! Not if he were going to prove to his parents and brother that he was bright and capable. He wanted to be sure he did the best job of tending it anyone could! Besides – the choice had to be right to satisfy something he was feeling deep inside. He wasn’t sure what that was, but it was urgent. His little heart was pounding. He needed it to be perfect. Little did he realize that a seed of creativity was beginning to bud in his little soul! All he knew was that he was going to get to select a plant, plant it and tend to it with tender loving care - all by himself!!

His mom was always cautioning him to be careful, to remove his shoes before he stepped into the house. He was wondering whether this perfection he wanted to produce would rate her favorable notice and approval. He felt that Dad would appreciate it when he had time to notice, but he was pretty busy working all the time or staying out of trouble with Mom so that he didn't always seem to really notice him unless it was after a fight with Junior when he was on the spot or some other infraction.

 As for Junior, all he ever seemed to do was try to look good, show him up and grab any favorable attention and approval that was available for himself. Sonny couldn't really blame his big brother for wanting it. It was what he wanted for himself, too. He just wished Junior's good luck didn't have to be at HIS expense so often.

But at this precise moment - NOTHING could depress him!! No sirree!

A green thumb of my own!
A green thumb of my own!

See Previous: Magnolia – opus 2       See Next: Magnolia – opus 4

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22 comments

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

I've been meaning to ask, Nellieanna...is this based on a true story or is it the very engrossing product of a very fertile imagination? :)

I envy anyone with a green thumb - mine is some indeterminate colour - decidedly not green!


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

Lovely sentiment, ah how the small things affect us growing up. My wife has a green thumb. I do not. How come?


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

FP - It's some of both. Lots of observation of - and interaction with real people, with gaps in first-hand knowledge filled in by educated guessing and fertile imagination. I'd noticed and know a bit about effects of this phenomenon on specific lives on both sides of the "gap" and began to "connect the dots" and to realize more how they came to be.

My own thumb is a bit "camoflage" colored & is spasmodically a bit green. Not a true green thumb. LOL. I've been known to kill a plant with kindness. My mother's was so green she could push a virtually dry leaf into hard ground, water it and it would put down roots! My George also had a very green thumb. And they really cared about plants with a genuine TLC. Maybe it communicates somehow.

Steve - also maybe it's "in the stars". LOL -The "earth signs" (Virgo, Capricorn & Taurus, all practical and good at various practical earthy things) and "water signs" (Scorpio, Picses, & Cancer, all deep, feeling and sensitive to all living things) seem to relate with plants better than the "air signs" (Aquarius, Gemini & Libra, all thinking and a bit intellectual) and "fire signs" (Aires, Leo and Sagittarius, all passionate and very direct). haha. Of course each sign in each group focuses its tendencies on specialized areas, for instance, Capricorns are good at money matters, Cancers are great parents)

Though in Mother's and George's cases their "Sun Signs" weren't the determining factors. It was their "Moon Signs" which did the trick. Virgo is the best sign for a green thumb. What's her sign? ;) The Sun sign is the overall personality, the moon sign is the emotional or sensitive personality.

As for you, your connection is more with "things" than with plants, right? Appliances, etc. Not that it couldn't be both, but the prime area of interest does make a difference.

I'm not a "believer" in astrology, but looked into it at one time of my life when I was reading everything on every subject and had time to do it! But it is intriquing how frequently associated traits do seem to fit! Anyway, you asked and it was the best explanation I could come up with (I'm Aquarius, so sort of an 'air-head' - hahah)


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

Aha, Nellieanna...I'm Libra, so another airhead!! :D


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

green thumb, wonderful! I guess I could plant anything Mam Nellieanna, I used to plant rice in the ricefiled when I was young, No need to hire a professional to do it. Thank you Mam for this one! Maita


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Tee Hee - FP - now we know why you're so intelligent as well as fair-minded and well-balanced!! Lady Justice!

Maita - that's amazing to think of planting rice! My Dad was a farmer as well as a rancher. (for those unaware of it - there's a huge difference in the two!)

I think he loved nothing more than planting and cultivating his fields. In our part Texas, they were irrigated fields. And I loved nothing more than the fragrance of freshly cut alfalfa on a warm summer evening with a big moon shining. Can you remember smells? I really can. I wonder if rice has a fresh green smell?

During the War, while her husband was overseas, my middle sister, Ruth, taught school and in one area, Iraan, Texas, (they pronounce both the "a's") the fields were irrigated by huge sprinkler "wheels". She recalled her students who'd been working in the fields saying they'd been "Movin' pipe, movin' pipe" - referring to the huge hose-like feeds for the water to the sprinklers.

Humans are so ingenious, aren't we?

I never saw the "pipe movin'" taking place but driving through that area, I vividly remember seeing those big sprinklers literally raining water over the fields.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Nellieanna - Another great installment - the images are perfect also - I love the gardening with family - we have a vegetable garden that we all plant and grow in together - my two young sons love it and enjoy it sometimes things grow wonderfully sometimes not - you know how that goes :)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Yes, Billy - how true it is! A shared garden is a wonderful thing. And how healthy for your sons to get to know the feeling of planting and tending a garden! Of course - it's a living entity - so it has good times and less good times! But isn't that just part of the lessons it teaches? Thanks so much for visiting and sharing your own experience with that part of it!


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

I am watching the everyday events of an everyday life here and at times the simplicity and normalcy of it is a pleasure to behold. Well done.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thanks, DG. That's the point. Those were everyday lives and families, with hopes and dreams of being "normal" for the years to come. Still, there were unseen situations which created what we came to know as a "generation gap" which was possibly the widest and deepest of many generations.

Certain forces that were set in motion, paired with certain realities normally the "glue" but which were lost in the shuffle after the war created an incubator for the enormous gap which ensued, despite the best of intentions and hopes.

It needed to be shown that the parents were trying and the kids were not all that different. It was those unseen ingredients which created climate and probably the inevitability of such a rift. All members of the generations didn't feel it the same but all felt it.

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your reading and responding!


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Re reading again here Nellieanna and I had to say this passage I have been trhough with both my sons - great memories :) "Never had he seen so many beautiful plants and young trees begging for his attention. He felt stirred by some primordial urge to rescue them - or at least one or two of them. He ran back to Dad to ask whether or not he could buy one to plant. "Please, please, Daddy - I NEEEED it!" He looked so earnest and sounded so urgent. Tim looked into his little face and his heart just melted."


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Yes - that's a very heartfelt passage. I wasn't in on it personally, but I know the people who were. I had to fill in the exact scenario and the exact words but I know the feelings that were there and they were important. It is extremely poignant.

Since it's your first-hand experience, I KNOW it's meaningful to you. Thanks for re-reading and letting me know!! I'm really happy that I was able to capture that feeling between a father and his sons.


SilverGenes 6 years ago

I am hoping this will become a book... one that I would cherish and read over and over again. You have a real gift for bringing this time alive and in ways that make the heart ache at times. I am eagerly awaiting the next...

p.s. this is from a Scorpio with the moon in Taurus. I just learned that recently but it seems to explain a lot. Air and water = bubbles!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Well - I don't like to contradict, but Scorpio is water, Taurus is earth. But you're bubbly - so I'm betting you have some strong air sign influence from Aquarius, Gemini or Libra in there somewhere!

Taurus is good as a moon sign, since the moon rules the emotions and Taurus is warm and nurturing, though the most "fixed" of the "fixed" (ie-stubborn) signs. Each element has its "fixed" sign. My sun sigh, Aquarius is Air's fixed one. Scorpio happens to be Water's fixed sign and, as you may or may not know - is highly passionate with an indelible memory which never forgets or forgives. Scorpio is mysterious & quite atuned to the netherworld and secretive about it. I had a brother and sister who were Scorpio. :| LOL.

There are always mitigating influences in a horoscope, though. I'm not a "believer" though I am always interested to see how characteristics fit. Amazing at times!

I'm drafting the next Magnolia installment. Not sure how long to persue the story, though. Perhaps until an apparant break or stopping place materializes.

Thanks for the encouragement! It means a lot to me for someone of your ability to appreciate it!


Michael from Georgetown 6 years ago

Nellieanna, unfortunately I missed seeing that opus 1, 2, and 3 came out until now, but it was worth the wait and very exciting. Your prose is as captivating as your poetry. I happened to grow up in the 50's myself, and reading your depictions bring back memories very similar to your story. Most importantly, reading it is going to prove very cathartic in challenges I've faced in my own life, as i can already personally relate to Sonny. Your writing is superb!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, my dear! I hoped you'd enjoy the odyssey. :) I have the draft of opus 4 in the works. Not sure how far I'll go with the story, but certainly a bit longer. So hope you read along further! Hadn't exactly planned the scope when I began, but sort of let the spirit move me. Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. Hugs - Nellieanna


M Selvey, MSc profile image

M Selvey, MSc 6 years ago from United Kingdom

Nellieanna,

Lovely installment! I just love the way you are able to get into the mind of the boys and convey the relationship between them, the triangulation with their father and how the trip to the nursery reflected this.

Something about this reminds me of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden where Mary says, "Might I have a bit of earth?" I think children naturally have a fascination with plants and growing things, part of their curious natures and the ability to start something and watch it come to fruition. I think it is an inherent sense of ownership and pride of nurturing something.

Looking forward to the next installment!

P.S. I am also a Scorpio. I defy Scorpioness. My memory is terrible and I aim to be very forgiving. Attuned to the netherworld...I'll have to think about that one :-)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Margit - that is so very true. And I just love that quote from The Secret Garden. I can just picture a disciplined child wanting that relationship with the Earth and asking for it so politely.

Fortunately children do seem directly affiliated with growing and nurturing living things. Otherwise, the future would be dismally bleak. But each new life and generation brings hope of some things improving. I'm so happy that Michelle Obama has encouraged the love of growing things in children she's reaching.

Thanks again and more for your interest here, and especially for what I sense as friendship.

The zodiac signs are not a noose & often they don't fit, at least not perfectly. Even then, there may be an aura hovering about the differences, which reflects an overall Scorpioness or whatever the sign, perhaps in a kind of intensity & depth, even when commonly associated characteristics don't really fit. As far as I'm concerned - it is the individual's own self-awareness that counts, not some other kind of evaluation.

It's said that each sign has examples of degrees of being "evolved" as its type manifesting its characteristics. In the case of Scorpios, there are different creatures which supposedly personify its levels. The less evolved is personified by the scorpion or snake & the highly evolved, by the eagle. Both exemplify Scorpio's intensity but in quite different ways.

Even if one believes in it (I simply find it an interest but not a belief), mixtures of signs in different "houses" & occuring in different constellations, as well as in relationship to each other are all supposed to refine and better define a person's horoscope. Who knows?

Takes a bit of expertise to plot it, directly related to astronomical movements of planets & constellations as they're perceived from Earth's perspective at the moment of one's entrance onto it. One might question when that moment is - conception or birth, or whether surgical changing of the natural term is a factor. Definitely not an exact study!

Then it takes expertise to interpret it. It is by no means an empirical science, but more of an art loosely based on science. I went through a time when I had opportunity to read everything in sight & read a lot about it, along with a lot of history, philosophy, science & other "serious" subjects. I probed it in much the same way as the other disciplines. haha. It was interesting, but not convincing, nor was I looking to be convinced. Seemed that the more I knew the less I knew I knew - about most things, in fact. LOL

But it was surprisingly more applicable than I'd expected. It's said that it was the psychology for the ancients, much as witch-doctoring was their medical practice. One often wonders whether we've advanced all that far! Perhaps so.

Anyway, I like to know about things before rejecting or accepting them. Know what i mean? It's not always necessary to reject or accept everything about everything one discovers! Many things lend some of their parts to a bigger "whole", though they're not wholes in and of themselves.

The longer I live, the less quickly I'm inclned to jump to hasty conclusions. LOL

Your comments are so interesting and helpful. It's no wonder that you are among my favorites to follow. I love your writing syle and subjects!


suny51 profile image

suny51 6 years ago

Absolutely grand,I think I will not make a comment here because I am not qualified for that,rather I have this to say-

I’ve been watching you for a while,

and wanted you to know that,

I admire you and respect you,

because as a writer,

you are one of the best,

and i shall follow you on.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

OH my Suny. How lovely. I didn't intend to neglect acknowledging this! My company were still here and I had my hands full with a granddaughter and her two teenage children, visiting from up north.

You are so kind! You do me much honor. Thank you!!! And please forgive the delay seeing and replying to this lovely tribute from such a nice person!


Juliette Morgan profile image

Juliette Morgan 6 years ago

Hello Nellieanna, another enthralling episode, where the comments and insights to the writing itself are a pleasure to read, on to 4 now! Great reading thank you.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, dear Juliette!! So glad you're following along this story!

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