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from a knowing of stars & other trees by nina light

memories of rich velvet and old brocade

It’s late Spring. The wooden banisters and railings of the porch are entwined with the gnarled wood of the wisteria’s centenarian branches. It embraces two sides of the old farmhouse and frames the views from my bedroom windows in riots of murmuring green and scented, purply lilac.

The old tree has been there since well before Nan was born. She told me once that it was her father who planted the wisteria for her mother. When I grow up, I want a man to plant a beautiful and sweet-smelling, flowering tree for me too.

The wisteria is in full bloom now; it's that time of the year. The flowers are luxuriant and headily scented, and hang in long, droopy bunches which are at least as long as those of the vines overhanging the back patio will be, come next August or September. Only the colour is a little different: there’s more blue in the wisteria flowers, and more crimson in the rosé grapes. And I can't make up my mind which I like best, the sweet grapes or these soft velvety flowers. It's every year the same. Every autumn I think it's the grapes I like best. But then the following spring comes, and I think I've never seen anything as beautiful as the wisteria flowers. It's every year the same. So maybe I really like the flowers best, but then why do I seem to forget all about them by the time the grapes are ripe?

The scent of the wisteria is everywhere. I can feel it invading me as I start coming down our road, as I walk home from school. Just as I can hear the buzz of the bees and of the beautiful, big bumblebees. I like to watch them through the window. Sometimes in the afternoon, when the sun is shining on my bedroom side of the house, I even open the window without Auntie knowing – she does not want me to open the sashes on my own, she says they are dangerous and they can cut one o...

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