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Violets and Rosemary Are for Remembrance

August 15, 2018


Violets beside the Old Water Pump


poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Once within a much younger year,

I had the idea of finding wild violets in a wood

and transplanting them at home.

Of course, my dad and I went violet hunting,

harvested some of the purple flowers

from a wooded spot alongside Highway 163,

on a memorable Hoosier hill.

Uncertain of my plan,

my dad still was a stealth accomplice.


At the inset of the southwest corner of our home,

shaded partly by the soft maple

on the other side

of the curving, white-rock driveway

was one of our three wells.

A concrete, rectangular frame

with a six-inch-deep cement lid

formed the base for the four-foot high,

old iron water pump

that my father painted the same bluish green

that he painted the foundation

of our “Heartland” house,

built in 1914.


Since city water lines

had come into our rural area,

we did not have the same needs for the pump.

When city cousins, with eleven children,

came to visit from Kankakee, Illinois,

the wild eleven were

fascinated with our pump

and worked the handle more in one day

than it had been used in three months of a summer.


With sidewalk to the east of the pump

and unsodded grass

around the other sides,

the knoll was the perfect spot

for my transplanting

the wild violets–

violets for remembrance.


Borrowed from an Indiana wood,

these violets flourished

for many years

to the north of the old pump

and below one of my bedroom windows.


Now, on my front porch

and behind my townhouse,

I tend a summer garden

of sixteen containers;

among these are

three containers of rosemary

because rosemary, too,

is for remembrance.



POST-SCRIPT:  Do you wonder what brought to my mind this patch of violets?  A few weeks ago, my friend and former colleague Sue (who is also a “master gardener” and a consistent supporter of my blog) sent me a card on the front of which was a watercolor painting of forget-me-nots (the state flower of Alaska).  These forget-me-nots prompted me to think of the violets detailed in this poem.  Thank you, Sue, because I had not thought of this remembrance of violets for many years.  Now, I have added another piece to the recollection puzzle of my “home in the Heartland”–in Blanford, Indiana.


The unusual bluish gray-green color of paint was my dad’s creation by mixing together all of his leftover paint.  Fortunately, his mixture was a sufficient amount for the entire foundation and the pump.  I always liked this color which my dad created.


Besides the three rosemary plants, this summer, my container garden includes two Italian basil plants, one purple sage, one spearmint plant, two lavender (herb) bushes, two white geraniums, three pink geraniums, and two lavender geraniums.  I greatly enjoy tending and giving “tours” of my container garden.  Of course, Willow, my fourth guide dog, is my gentle and wonderful assistant.


Finally, I, a resident of Wisconsin for twenty-seven years, will share with you the coincidence that the state flower of Wisconsin is the wood violet.


God bless your home and heart this summer!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow (who has never yet set paw in my beloved Indiana)


August 15, 2018, Wednesday



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  1. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–Thanks for this memoir/poem. Violets are a favorite flower in my rural landscape, not only because of their color but also because they bloom so early in the season. Mine are transplants also; some are from my childhood home woodland (the violet-colored ones) and some that are bi-colored (light violet and white) which were a gift from a friend who is fondly remembered each spring when they bloom. As one who has viewed your beautiful flower and herb plants, I also enjoyed the scents of your herbs. You truly have a green thumb. And, I didn’t know that forget-me-nots are the state flower of Alaska, proof that like violets, they are not only beautiful, but tough!–Sue

    • Hi, Sue–How nice to know that you also have some transplanted violets!  Thanks for proclaiming my thumb as “green”!

      Take care–Alice and Willow

  2. Dear Alice,
    I do clearly remember the lovely purple violets that graced our outdoor water pump just outside of the bedroom window. They were a welcomed sign of spring after the long winter. In my home I have a special dinner plate that belonged to our maternal grandmother, Grandma Store. The plate has royal blue around the rim which is decorated with strands of gold that still shine brilliantly, even though the plate is probably close to one hundred years old. In the very center of the plate is a bunch of violets! I can remember seeing Grandma eat her meals on that plate, and I enjoy displaying it in my china hutch. I have a small bouquet of silk violets in a vase right next to the pretty plate. What a treasured remembrance for me!
    God bless your home and heart, too!
    Love to you and Willow,

    • Hi, Mary–Thanks for this especially nice comment about the “violets” plate of our maternal grandmother.  What a special tactile remembrance!

      Enjoy the weekend–Alice and Willow

  3. Carole permalink

    This poem was delightful and what a surprise, Alice, to learn about the transplanted violets. I remember my mother transplanting a tulip tree from a roadside in the country. I suppose all of our Sunday car rides were inspirational in many ways.

    By the way, I recently attended a presentation about how our influence and nurturing affects children, as well as plants. The experiment involved how two plants responded to positive and negative comments. I’m sure you can predict which one flourished and which withered and died.

    Enjoy your beautiful and fragrant summer garden, of which I will soon have the pleasure of touring.

    • Hi, Carole–Yes, I do recall that tulip tree and how it grew.  To my recollection, your tulip tree was the only one in a yard in Blanford.

          I am so hoping that my container garden will be in good shape for your arrival.

      Thanks for the comment and “likes”–Alice and Willow

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