Underneath the humming old bridge is a secluded piece of country. No one would have guessed it because seldom does one bother to wander on back roads and places without destinations. But to us that rest here, it is home. I share this common road with my nameless and faceless neighbors spread acres apart. It is our road lined with overgrown ivy, jasmine, oak, and palm. An occasional pine towers above them all.
I walk past a lot, vacant yet well maintained. I’ve never seen the man that comes to cut it, but it seldom looks unkempt, except for the makeshift white post fence. It is rotten and leaning in spots, but even the old fence has its beauty. Lined with Ivy, it belongs on this secluded country road. The smell wafting from this empty landscape catches me by surprise. I stop dead in my tracks searching for an owner.
It’s a familiar fragrance that wants to capture me, to take me to a place I’ve known. It envelops me, distancing me from the place I now stand. “Back to where?” I ask it. And then I spot the originator, a healthy magnolia just taller than a big burly man, with much more growth yet to endure. Now I remember. I know where the scent is stealing me away to.
Suddenly I’m tiny again, small fingers and knees with no cares. I see the mature magnolia to the left of the open yard, just behind the old hand-built brick house. I was afraid to climb it all alone, but when I had an adventurer with me, her branches were my playground.
I stood under her shade staring up through the branches and leaves as light streamed into shadowy places. The big ole magnolia seemed to blow cool air over my summer sweat-ridden brow. She smelled so sweet with a hint of must that made her real. Her limbs were sturdy, thick, and the best for climbing.
Laid underneath her were blossoms upon blossoms strewn on the ground as if she had been crying. I’d like to think we cheered her with our laughter as we danced on her arms. I’d try to find the whitest, freshest of her tears to take to my Precious. I’d shoo the little ant family off my treasure. Mama Precious didn’t need those tiny things in her house, and I feared little bites on my small fingers. I’d take the special tear to my Precious and she’d receive it with all grown-up surprise. Where she placed it, I don’t recall. How long it stayed there, I’ll never know.
My Precious, smiling and laughing, on her old country road lingered with me while I walked further down past the procession of spilling green.