In late springtime in Vermont, Kristen’s mom would send her out to gather the laundry from the line situated just below fecund lilac bushes. The proximity to the blooms infused the laundry with the delicious smell of the lilacs. Now, each May when the lilacs burst, the scent reminds her of that sweet smelling laundry and her flower-filled childhood.
Kristen grew up in Vermont. Her parents’ home was lovingly adorned with gardens and flower beds planted and maintained exclusively by her father, John. He was and is “the flower guy” as Kristen puts it. As a high school teacher, John had access to a greenhouse where he tended to flowering plants of all sorts. Red and white geraniums were his particular passion because his mother loved them. In the spring, John would deliver to all his children huge blossoming, hanging baskets bursting with his winter greenhouse bounty.
John’s love of flowers has transferred not only to Kristen but to her children, Katie and Will (ages 8 and 5 respectively). John, or Papa as they call him, educates them about flowers, about growing and tenderly nurturing seeds. Kristen observes with delight: “flowers are a major engagement point” between her dad and her children. Katie, Will and Papa take time together conversing about, engaging over and literally messing with all things flowers. Their garden is a whole family activity as well nature’s classroom. Katie and Will noticed that the echinacea they planted last year attracted monarch butterflies and thought that was pretty darn cool.
Kristen sees that her kids are gaining an appreciation for nature, for its interconnected complexity and inherent beauty. Will and Katie are learning how to tend and care for something living and fragile. They are feeling the joy and satisfaction of watching things grow. But most of all, they are cultivating an amazing connection among the generations of a family whose roots are growing beautifully deep indeed.
Dr. Kristen Johnson is a Pediatric Doctor in Exeter, NH and lives with her her family in Newfields, NH.