I fell in love with spirea as a young kid. My neighbor had a bush on the side of her house that faced ours and I spent a lot of time alone running around the yard, looking at stuff, concocting teleplays in my head and taking special notice of anything remotely exceptional. I loved its unassuming profile, just a run-of-the-mill green bush most of the year, but for a month in the spring, it took on the most magical, lacy, bright pink blooms. Mrs. Havisham in magenta.
At some point that bush either died off or was removed, along with a lilac and a bridal wreath on the border of our properties. The old woman who lived in the house passed away.
I always held a candle for that ethereal pink plant. It was imprinted on my memory like a lost stuffed animal, the smell of my Grammy's back pantry, a favorite cartoon long off the air. It was decades before I ever saw one again, fleeting at first, then they started popping up. When I dropped my water bill payment off at the municipal building, then shopping at the supermarket. I learned their name: spirea. I told my husband that we needed these in our newly landscaped lawn. An absolute must. Once we found them at the nursery he loved them too.
Now they are everywhere, if you know what to look for. But I took special pride when both our mothers asked to cut a small bouquet from our blooming bushes before they left Fathers Day brunch at our house. They had never noticed, or never heard of spirea, my long lost friend.