The people's voice of reason

Tears & Laughter - The Hydrangeas are Blooming

It is July. The hydrangeas are blooming.

It has always struck me odd how it is that we can know something is coming up…we know it is on the way, and yet, we are still taken back a little by its arrival.

I knew July was on the calendar. Knew it was next. But when I turned the page in my planner to the month of July…it didn’t seem possible. The clock seems to tick too quickly sometimes. It’s equal opportunity, but it waits for nobody.

Turning the page to a new month feels like a fresh start. Or at least it does when it is thirty blank days stretched out side-by-side into weeks. Of course once all the have-to-do’s, and appointments, and need-to and should-do notes are plotted, it doesn’t look so blank anymore.

But as to why it is that in the face of looking forward to what is coming next, I go back…I don’t know.

I am from common people who lived common lives. They lived in common houses, and worked common jobs.

It was a typical early July afternoon in Mobile that day. I remember, because the hydrangeas were blooming.

The city of Mobile played a recurring role in my childhood. My dad grew up in Mobile. My grandparents lived there, as did one of my favorite aunts. I had cousins there.

We also went to church in Mobile. It’s a long story. A long story with a lasting impact, but I will spare the reader these details. I went to church in Mobile every week, on Saturday. I had a church family there that still holds meaning to me.

My best friend lived there. She went to the same church. We were so close at times that it was hard to distinguish where one of our families ended and the other began. We were seamless. I spent countless weekends with them, and several weeks during the summers.

Her parent’s influence upon my life and my nature cannot be overstated, nor can my appreciation for them. Outside of my own mother, if their was any woman who I admired and slightly patterned my life after, it was Edwina Thomas. She … was not common, though “just” a housewife and mother. I liked that.

But on this particular July afternoon, we were visiting my Aunt Martha.

Martha Brown. Nobody ever pronounced the “r.” She had a huge personality and the gift of humor. She was a joy. Her husband was Joe. Joe Brown. He was a mechanic. He always smelled like diesel and had a cigarette in his hand. I loved him. He chuckled a lot. He was always happy it seemed, at least in his face. I know their life was troubled. There were struggles. But those were set to the side on Saturday afternoons.

There were plans to fry flounder together later in the evening. The kind with two eyes on one side. Mama had a new hushpuppy recipe she was trying. But that would be later, after dusk, after the streetlights glowed. My grandparents were on their way over. The sun had not yet set. We were all outside. There were lawn chairs scattered about.

They were talking about the hydrangeas. How pretty they were that year. There were two huge ones on each side of the front steps. They were blue. Some in the back were purple. And they were going on and on remembering which relative used to have which color growing where back when they were growing up.

Those voices. Mingling against the lengthening afternoon shadows.

I guess I will always still hear them echoing come July.


Amanda Walker is a contributor with, The Selma Times Journal, Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Alabama Gazette. Contact her at or at


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