Sunday, May 10, 2009

Iris on Mother's Day

My mother and iris are always associated in my mind.

This is Grape Snakez ("snake eyes"). Please ignore the wheel of my neighbor's car...

For about 20 years, Mama and I shared an iris garden and a small 'business' that we made from it. The garden moved several times, as circumstance and life changes occurred. Sometimes it was in my yard, sometimes in hers.

It didn't start out to be a business. In 1987, we had some iris that were extra and we needed to find them homes. We took them to a local farmer's market in the hopes that someone might be interested in them. Mama had some photos that showed what a few of them looked like in bloom. We made tags for the rest of them with descriptions of height, color etc.

We were delighted that we sold the iris that we took that day and we realized that the ones in the photos sold very quickly, even though some of the others were really prettier iris!

That started the effort to take attractive photo's of all our iris.

It sounds easy enough, but the challenge was to have a freshly opened flower at a time of day without wind (a rare condition) and when the light was good. Then, we would take the roll of film to the one hour photo processing place, ideally in enough time to get the photos back the same day or a do-over if needed. Then we would go through the photos and see if they were 'true' colors and in focus, etc. If the iris were not shown to the best advantage, we would make a list of "re-takes", and wait for another fresh bloom, good light, etc.

The photo processing place got a bit of an education in iris, since if the prints were not the correct tone, Mama would ask them to re-do it to see if they could get it closer. Sometimes, she took a flower in with her to show them what color it should be...

My mother was a lifelong photographer and she gave me my first 35mm camera for a wedding gift. Whenever I take photos with my digital camera, I think about how much Mama would have LOVED having a digital camera! Even though she really liked slides, she would have loved being able to see how her photos looked immediately!

Our iris business grew from a way to justify spending way to much on our compelling need to buy several of the new introductions each year, to an fairly significant income supplement for us both. In later years, Ms A took over sharing some of the "heavy lifting" parts of the process when Mama couldn't do as much and financed a very nice cello with her part of the profits one summer.

Mama was known as "the iris lady" by lots of folks around town. She always had time to give advice or help someone dig and divide overgrown iris and show them how to re-plant them - "not too deep and at least a half day of sunshine".

After the market each Saturday, we would go have lunch and talk about the day. It was fun to see what we made and plan for the next weekend, but I think what Mama enjoyed the most was just visiting with folks about iris.

I never look at my iris, or any other, without thinking about Mama.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama


Iron Needles said...

Gah. With the 410 house last night on Greensburg and this post...I am just a puddle.

Martha said...

What a sweet story -- I love it that your mama was known as "The Iris Lady." It reminds of the children's book "Miss Rumphius" -- she was "The Lupine Lady."

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about Iris and Mom. Iris are blooming all over town...I remember when David was born, she brought a HUGE bouquet of Iris to the hospital and during the shift change of hospital staff, they were more interested in the Iris than Me!! Love, WS

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you remember, but there used to be iris's all aound the Big Well Park-- think back to the stone wall-- the iris grew right next to it. I don't know why, but before the tornado someone got rid of all of them! Why would they do that?? They were self sufficient weren't they? What kind of a problem could they have been? They were always so pretty.