Would you like to know how Mary Ellen came to own all the snowdrops in the world?
It was a gloriously sunny day in February. We were walking along the path that led into town. The one that went through the church yard with its gravestones and squirrel-filled trees. There, on one of the grassy slopes that led towards the river, was a blanket of delicate flowers. They looked like a snow drift and for a moment my brain was confused by the sweep of white on such an unusually warm spring day.
‘If you name it, you keep it!’ Mary Ellen sang out the familiar refrain of a game we played to amuse ourselves on the daily visit to the grocery store with our mother. It was a simple game. One of us pointed to an object and the other had to name it to claim it. Of course, the person doing the pointing always knew the name of the chosen object. I was particularly proud of how many models of car I now owned in this game.
Now, though, I felt a flare of irritation as I saw she was pointing at the flowers. Mary Ellen was two years older than me. This age advantage meant she frequently won this game of fantasy. I knew it would avail me nothing to name them simply as flowers. She would roll her eyes and tell me I was stupid. To win the game, I had to come up with their proper name.
I stared at them, willing them to give up their secret. A memory stirred – other flowers in a woodland setting. They’d had such a simple name, and although larger and blue in colour they weren’t so very different to these dark leaved blooms.
I crossed my fingers and hazarded a guess. ‘White bells.’
Mary Ellen laughed. ‘No. They’re snowdrops. And now they are mine. All the snowdrops in the world are mine.’
She skipped happily down the path, content that in her seven-year-old world she was now the rightful owner of every snowdrop, past, present and future.
Photo courtesy of Image by Hans Braxmeier and Pixabay.