Don’t Sit Under the Linden Tree

 “Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” – L.M. Montgomery

two linden treesIt’s funny how our senses can trigger memories.

Now is the time of year that linden trees are in bloom. The flowers are very fragrant, and there are many linden trees in our neighborhood. Yesterday morning, as Bill and I did our power walk outside instead of the gym, we walked under a blooming linden tree and the smell wafted down to my nostrals. Suddenly I was 7 again.

We had linden trees at our house when I was growing up – a pretty one in the front yard and a less pretty, kind of scrawny one in the back yard. I always thought – and still do today – that linden trees are one of the prettiest trees created by God. To me, they are the perfect shape – a bit like the shape of a tree that a child would draw (except my trees were always round and had apples). We talk now and again about planting a linden tree, and perhaps will if our honey locust ever betrays us and dies. (God forbid, because that’s the tree on which hangs the highly-popular swing enjoyed by every single one of our grandchildren at some point (except for Baby Cole; his day will come).

Every year about this time, my Grammie would come over to our house and gather linden tree blossoms. She would take those blossoms home to the apartment above the bakery where she and Gramps lived. The apartment hadlinden blossoms two bedrooms – the one they shared and a spare in which there was a double bed with a metal frame that was the squeakiest bed ever. Even now, I can hear the squeak of the bed as we sat on it. Bill said old box springs had fewer springs than today’s version, and that’s why our grandmothers’ beds squeaked. That’s the bed where any and all of the grandkids slept if they spent the night.

Grammie would lay out a big sheet of plastic on that bed and lay the blossoms all over the plastic. The smell enveloped the room. Over the next few weeks, the blossoms would dry out. Eventually, they were ready to be used to make the [wallcoo.com]_summer_drinks_261837only non-alcoholic beverage my grandmother ever had in her house – her iced linden tea. I don’t recall where she stored the tea leaves, but she kept the tea in her refrigerator in a big jar.

Opinions were mixed about the tea. Bec and I didn’t like it; Jen and Dave did. I can’t recall what Bec and I drank instead as Grammie seriously had nothing else to offer. Water, I guess, or choked down the tea. She served it ice cold and unsweetened. It was probably very good for us – well, for Jen and Dave since Bec and I eschewed it.

I wonder if she had learned to make linden tea back in Switzerland, or if it was something she only started doing after moving to the United States. I wish I had asked her.

Thinking about the tea led me to recall that Gramps used to go out to the country each year late in the summer and gather wild grapes to make his wine. He died at a very young age and I was never able to taste his wine, but I asked my dad one time if the wine was any good. Sometimes yes; sometimes no, according to Dad. I remember that there were big wooden wine barrels in the basement (the enormously SCARY basement) of the bakery in which he would store his wine. Dad sold the wine barrels when he sold the bakery, I would imagine. Probably full of vinegary wine no doubt. He also threw all of the monsters that lived in that basement into the deal.

And while I was walking down memory lane, I was recalling more about Grammie’s spare bedroom. There was a closet in that room in which she probably kept her off-season clothes, etc. But in that closet there was also the four bridesmaid dresses from the wedding of my Aunt Venie to my Uncle Dale. The dresses were tea length with a sweetheart neckline. I think they also included a short jacket. They were each a different pastel color. I can’t remember what colors they all were, except that my mother – who had been a bridesmaid – wore a really pretty shade of olive green. The dresses had a shirt waist with a very full satin skirt with a matching tulle overlay. The dresses were lined up together in that closet (I wonder how Grammie ended up with them?). My sisters and I were not allowed to put them on, but we were allowed to look at them and touch them. I would run my fingers over the tulle skirts and bury my face in the rough material. I seriously can remember how they felt to this day. I can even smell the musty odor.

Okay Friends. I’m back and 60 years old again. But I sure did enjoy that trip down Memory Lane. What would we do without our memories? I hope I am creating some of the same kind of grand memories for my grandkids.

What are some smells or sights that trigger memories in your life?

7 thoughts on “Don’t Sit Under the Linden Tree

  1. We sisters often talk about how as siblings we had such different childhood experiences. I have no recall of ever sleeping in the second bedroom. I always slept on the pull out sofa bed in the living room. And never minded a bit. Did you know that after Gramps passed away Mom would occasionally have me spend a school night overnight with Grammie? I remember doing that several times. I loved being with her any night of the week. I guess I acquired my love of herbal tea from Gramme!

  2. Gramps Micek took me to Venie’s wedding at the “Swiss church” on 11th street. I thought it was the most glamorous event with the different colored bridesmaids dresses. I was about five, and it was my first wedding!

  3. I remember Grammie always being very excited when she could finally harvest the blossoms from that tree. I, too, wonder where she learned about that.

    As you know, I was the flower girl in that wedding. I must have been very young…I don’t remember much about it. But I loved looking at the pictures. Like Kak, I thought it so glamorous. Venie was a beautiful woman and bride. And all those handsome men!

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