Fall is my favorite time of year. It’s the colors. There is nothing more vibrant than the rich display of rust, burgundy, gold and green that colors our world at this time of year. It makes me think of apple orchards, Girl Scout projects that required a collection of multi-hued leaves, bonfires and hay rides.
Perhaps, it was the recollection of those favorite childhood things that prompted my color choices when my then-husband and I purchased our first house in the late 1970s. We had hoped the builder offered an exterior color we’d seen at another development, a rusty brick red, but it wasn’t available. We chose a deep gold instead. With dark brown shutters and a russet-colored roof.
Inside, our décor was fall-colored, too. The living room couch was covered in wide-wale corduroy the color of chocolate. The carpeting, the same hue of a camel hair coat, went well with the deep red-brown fabric on the dining room chairs and the vinyl flooring designed to look like mahogany-colored parquet.
We moved into our new abode at the end of August but the driveway still had to be put in and the sod, as well. It wasn’t until the following summer that I began to think of flowers and shrubs. The flowers would have to be marigolds, I knew. They came in “our” colors.
I drew up some plans and went to a garden store to find out what I would need. Then, I went home and laid my drawings on the table for my husband and children to see. “It should only take us a day,” I said. “We can pick up the rock at a place in Burnsville and get the blooms and bushes at one of the landscape stores in Richfield.”
The following Sunday, we set out early to make our purchases. We marked off the area of sod that needed to come up, put down plastic, planted junipers and an arborvitae and shoveled rock until we could barely stand up straight.
In the area near the front door and around the base of the lone tree the builder had included in the purchase agreement, I planted fall-colored marigolds that went with our house.
Every spring of every year, I returned to the landscape store and loaded my car with orange, maroon and yellow marigolds. When I was finished with the planting, I always stepped back to the street to survey the rich panoply of my handiwork against the backdrop of my golden home.
My mother was fond of marigolds, too. Even as a kid, their sweet little faces made me smile. I’m not the only one. In her piece, “Marigolds,” Eugenia W. Collier writes that when she thinks of the hometown of her youth, all she can think of is dust. “The brown, crumbly dust of late summer.”
Collier goes on to say that one of the other things she remembers, something she attributes to the incongruous nature of memory is, “A brilliant splash of sunny yellow against the dust — Miss Lottie’s marigolds.”
She adds, “Whenever the memory of those marigolds flashes across my mind, a strange nostalgia comes with it and remains long after the picture has faded.”
I know the feeling.