In the house I grew up in we had hedges of gardenia plants along the walkway between the house and the garage. Every May we had an abundance of flowers, so many that we would take big paper shopping bags full of them to our teachers at school, fill every room in the house, and giving away plenty to anyone who stopped by. Returning from my first year away at college in Colorado, I came home to find a bunch of them loosely standing in a vase of water in my bedroom. My dad had picked them and put them there for me, so the smell would fill the room for my arrival. “You can do the arranging,” he said, “You’re good at that,” and went off to do something manly like chop firewood or build a boat. His thoughtfulness was so kind and sweet, and even though he didn’t say it, I think he missed me while I was away.
To this day even the slightest sent of gardenias lightens my spirit and makes me relax into a quiet beautiful place.