A couple of weeks ago I went walking along the Wissahickon Creek with Scott. I’d been feeling cooped up and it was a pretty warm day. I hoped that some miracle had happened and the bloodroot flowers–pure white and waxy–would be blooming in the leaf matter under the tall tulip poplars. Forbidden Drive was littered with the seeds of the tulip tree, opened chalices of gold petals, but there were no flowers in the woods. I was thinking about a formal garden behind a house called Druim Moir up the hill from where we were walking. It was made by one of the developers of Chestnut Hill in the early 1900s. I have copies of the photographs taken at that time. An Italianate garden that cascaded in terraces down the edge of the slope above the river. In one of the pictures five beautiful children with shiny hair pose around a spouting fountain. I found the photos in a collection of photographs in an old album at the Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.
I’m not even sure the walls that bordered the fountains and terraces are still there. The house is split up into three condos. I know this because one of my students lived there once, before her family moved to the Caribbean.
As we walked near the split rail fence above the river I could have been far out in the country on an old road. There were no cars, only the heavy swish of wind in the hemlocks and poplars and the rush of the river flashing silver below the bare trees on the hillside. Along the road the curled, cold leaves of rhododendron shimmered.
It’s April now and I know the bloodroot is in bloom. Time spilling itself like the white petals opening more and more to the far corners of the universe. My striped tulips are bound to open once the sun warms up their bed.