I lived the majority of my childhood years in a house on Villanova Street, and when I think of that house, I think first of summers spent playing outside: all the neighborhood kids out of school and the longer days affording even more daylight, something we relished.
Even more so than the interior of the house, I remember so clearly the exterior: the trees, flowers and plants that surrounded our home and street. As a child, they were as much a part of my world as the bed that I slept in or the table where I ate. Even now, the plants of Villanova Street remain indelibly etched in my mind–the soft lamb’s ear, the butterfly-attracting lantana, the tall pine tree, the pink trumpet lilies, the spindly crepe myrtles, the azalea bushes–because they were my summertime playground. I ran through and among them, climbed over and around them.
The neighborhood kids and my two brothers and I loved to play hide-and-go-seek, using all of the front yards for hiding. To us, it was like playing in a jungle: kids hiding in bushes, behind trees and among the clutter between houses. My favorite spot was in the crepe myrtles that lined the division between my house and the next; there was a perfect crook in which I could sit, hidden by the branches and blooms above all the roaming kids below. In the trees, they could rarely find me.
Even today, I can spot crepe myrtles from way down the block—their thin, peeling branches reaching toward the sky. For me, they are synonymous with summer and childhood games, with the rare moment of being above the commotion, looking down on it all.
We seem to learn, and remember, most vividly when we have a story, and to relate when its existence is somehow intertwined with our own. Cherie Foster Colburn’s beautifully-illustrated children’s book, Bloomin’ Tales, does just that as it tells legends of the Texas wildflowers. These legends originate from some of the first native Texans, having been passed down for years, and Colburn invites kids and adults alike to take part in the folklore. Readers will fall into the magic of Bloomin’ Tales, always remembering the legends about the Foxglove, the water lily and the prickly pear cactus, as you make them part of your children’s summer memories.