In late April I think of the columns Clara Hieronymus used to write in The Tennessean newspaper. Not her theater columns from her 40 years as theater critic for the newspaper but the annual columns about her wedding anniversary and her April garden.
The newspaper photo above is from my diary as I could not find it online. Her bridal coronet is made of Confederate violets, and violets were always her leitmotif in the columns.
Here are some excerpts from her columns that I saved in my diaries, along with pictures of the Confederate violets that grow in our own garden among the purple ones.
Mrs. Hieronymus taught me to love them.
"As if to urge a more familiar mood of festivity, our violets are in bloom, in the garden borders and all over the yard--long-stemmed Confederate violets whose woodland find supplied the flowers for my wedding veil, rich purples from a friend's garden years back, whites and pale lavenders, and bright yellows that speak of my husband's fondness for yellow flowers."
"It makes me happy to recall the morning I opened my eyes and saw my young husband standing by my hospital bed. Our first child had just been born and my husband had bought all the violets the florist had, bringing the purple bouquets to me in both hands."
",,,55 years of companionship with a man who has been patient and loving and appreciative of April's metaphorical bounty of violets, year after year."
"We met our problems in these 56 years with hearts as resolute as we could make them…we grew together in increasing sympathy and loving understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses."
"With violets and grape hyacinths making the yard a blue and green mosaic of flowers and grass, we greet another year."
Each year, year after year, I read Mrs. Hieronymus's columns, inspired by their marriage and yes, envying their marriage. They didn't quite make it to their 58 year anniversary as her husband passed away the month before their next anniversary.
That year Mrs. Hieronymus wrote:
"In the midst of grief I reach for solace, and find comfort in the fact that he was here to see one of the most beautiful springtimes in the 45 years we have lived in Nashville.
"The violets that he knew I loved bloomed in a joyous abandon of purple, yellow, white and blue in the borders and grass everywhere.
"We loved this garden, his Christmas gift to me one year…A haven where we might savor coffee and the morning paper, or visit over a glass of wine on a summer evening, listening to the whispery rustle of the cane and growing quiet as a hummingbird visited the red salvia.