I was always surprising my mother.
I was born during a blizzard, right in our kitchen. When she was alone. First surprise. Cord around my neck, second. Being born two days after her birthday, never appreciated for some reason, was a nice surprise, I thought. Except maybe I was too much like her.
With my self-inflicted concussions from numerous falls, broken arms, food poisoning, getting lost, being bitten by wild mice, trying to save bats, and on and on… now figuring that at one hundred surprises a year… by the time I was eight, I imagine it was surprise number eight hundred and forty-two when I made Mother’s Day breakfast for her.
I gave her six hundred surprises in one moment.
Mother’s Day morning I woke early, went out a few hours after sunrise to gather flowers for the table. The only flowers in the yard were bridal wreath spirea. The old-fashioned grandmother’s flowering shrubs. Tulips and jonquils, gone. Iris and peonies a few weeks before bloom.
So I picked an armload of long-branched bridal wreath. Took them inside. Placed them on the kitchen floor while I spread a table cloth and took down the huge pitcher vase. Only some of the branches fit, so the rest I spread out in the center of the table which I then set with the prettiest blue-rimmed plates and white napkins.
Now I knew how to poach eggs and heat smoky link sausages, very elegant with orange juice, to an eight-year-old. The coffee was perking when Mom roused from bed to come to the kitchen with my little sister.
“So pretty,” I was told.
I only wish I had not been pouring her coffee so I could have seen her expression at the second before she started screeching. “Allan! Oh my god! Allan!!!”
That would be my brother. While I am always attempting to keep him as anonymous as possible in my tales, for obvious reasons if you read the stories, at this moment I can hardly have her yelling for Steve or Ricky.
Allan came running.
“Ants! there are ants!” she hollered. “Get that table cloth out of the house!”
Seems bridal wreath spirea has ants, especially in the morning sun. Who knew???
About three hundred tiny sugar ants were spiraling across the tablecloth at seventy miles an hour. Like twenty-five flocks of Canadian geese in a vee across the horizon shooting into the butter, the jam, the honey. Fortunately they were on the table cloth so most of them could not figure out how to get on a table leg and get down.
Or so she thought.
The table cloth was gathered into a ball and thrown into the front yard. The jam and honey pots were left under the bridal wreath bushes for the ants to enjoy. Mom enjoyed her breakfast and coffee.
Until the other three hundred ants that had been in the armload of flowers which were first placed on the kitchen floor and took off across the kitchen finally found their way back to the table and began to climb under her lovely Mother’s Day skirt.
“Oh my god! Jack!!!”
That would be my dad.
Today there are a dozen massive glorious bridal wreath bushes in my cottage garden. I have yet to bring one branch into my home.
Essa Adams is the author of the novel, A Breath Floats By.
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