When she arrived at the house, her jaw dropped when she walked into my growing room. Her eyes were big as saucers, and she couldn't stop expressing her awe at my collection, (which to me seems humble compared to many I've seen.) She asked a lot of questions, which I did my best to answer, and she told me she had grown a few violets years ago. As we talked, she remarked about certain plants that she especially liked. Doing only what comes natural, I grabbed a few ziploc baggies and a sharpie, plucked her off a few leaves and sent her with cups, soil and instructions for starting them.
I think we die-hard violet growers sometimes forget how exciting and inspiring it can be for others to see, admire and peruse our plants. We tend them and see them every day. We're accustomed to attending shows or meetings, or having leaf exchanges or tours of others' growing areas, but for the non-die-hard violet fans, it can be a breathtaking and unforgettable experience. I have read endless stories of people who remember that special neighbor or grandmother who grew violets on a window ledge or sun room. You have to consider that these must have been incredibly memorable and poignant experiences for so many people to remember them from so long ago.
Ms. Janie "adopted" me instantly, and we visited on several occasions. We talked violets, of course, but also about so many other things. She was a voice of calm reassurance when I was going through the uncertainties of moving again, and I promised to visit her new apartment the next time I traveled back to Arkansas. I went down there just last month for Thanksgiving, and of course I made a point to fit in a visit with her.
The moment I walked into her apartment, I could see all the violet glory on her windowsill. All the little plants I'd sold or given to her were big and blooming their fool heads off! The leaves I'd given her to start were nearing the size for separating, and I was amazed she hadn't lost a single one. Her face beamed in pride as she showed them to me, and I was also proud of her! She had listened to all my advice, remembered every word and actually did the things I'd suggested. She had absolutely doted on them, and it showed! Her plants looked better than mine did.
Ms. Janie is a very special violet friend, and although she doesn't own a computer or read blogs, I needed to take some time to acknowledge and honor her. People like her help to not only keep us excited about our own plants, but also to remind us of the simple joys of tending a single plant and waiting for it to develop a flower. They teach us to "give back," and they give us another kindred spirit with whom to share the fruits of our labor and love. We most certainly tend to take that enthusiasm for granted. So on this holiday, I remember all my violet friends and mentors who have, in one way or another, added to my knowledge or increased my enthusiasm. I love and remember all of you! Merry Christmas!!!