It’s the little things that often trigger memories from my past. For me, these hollyhocks my husband planted outside my office window, transport me back to my childhood. My sister and I spent many hours out on our grandparent’s farm southeast of Woodson, Illinois. We didn’t need a lot of toys to entertain us–we had Grandma.
Alongside of the driveway hiding a wire fence around the chicken yard, Grandma planted hollyhocks in an array of pinks and purples, yellows and whites. The steady hum of giant bumble bees kept Pat and I a healthy distance from the flowers, but that never deterred Grandma from harvesting the buds and blooms in various stages of blossoming. As she peeled back the green part (I’m not a botanist) of the bud it revealed what seemed to us like eyes. That became the head of our doll. When she pressed the stem of the blossom into the hole on the bottom of the bud creating a dress or skirt, a hollyhock doll was born.
Imagine the delight of two little girls. We soon began making our own hollyhock dolls. Tiny yellow flowers and leaves of clover became decorations, white clover strung into crowns or necklaces as afternoons melted away. With all the handling these tiny dolls didn’t last long and each day was a new adventure creating a new doll. Tiny wheat shafts became arms and we discovered that by using toothpicks to hold them together we could add hats made from the smaller blooms.
I don’t see hollyhocks around as much as I did when I was a kid and it’s sad that my daughters and granddaughters didn’t have the chance to create and play using just the materials found in the yard or garden and their own imagination. But we hope to rekindle this pastime and look forward to the time when our great granddaughters might come and play with our hollyhocks.