A Branch of Orange Blossoms
June 1984

“A Branch of Orange Blossoms,” Ensign, June 1984, 61

A Branch of Orange Blossoms

Even before I opened my eyes that spring day, I began planning and organizing. I had much I wanted to accomplish. But before I really got going, the fine flow of early morning energy began to trickle away, like air from a tire with a slow leak.

Robert, my two-and-a-half-year old son, balked at eating his breakfast. He spilled a glass of milk. The dress I intended to wear needed to be pressed. My car stalled and refused to budge. Although we got the car in for repairs, it wasn’t until after lunch that we once more headed for home, tired and grumpy.

As we came near a friend’s home I impulsively turned up her long driveway.

My friend, a widow well into her eighties, was sitting on a bench in front of her house. She wore a sweat-shirt and an old pair of pants, resting after a morning’s work in her garden.

My friend’s garden was not typical. Every inch of soil she was able to push the wilderness from contained something beautiful or useful. She invited us to join her there. Enchanted, we wandered first among her apple trees, then walked down small rough steps to a dirt road that separated her house and a steep, vine-covered slope. At the bottom of the slope was a tiny stream.

Here she had formed a partnership with nature. Rosemary cascaded over a low stone wall. Nasturtiums tumbled down the bank. On a small, flat shelf a pocketful of wild ferns opened their leaves in the cooling shade.

As we walked up the path into the sunshine, I smelled the heavy, sweet odor of orange blossoms before I saw the tree. It was covered with tiny, white flowers. I breathed deeply. Sensing my pleasure, my friend quickly broke off a branch and placed it in my hand.

Something in that moment—the smell of the tree or the twig placed in my hand—captured me. It restored my fading sense of simplicity and wonder.

“You can see,” she said, her brown eyes twinkling, “why the place keeps me young.”

Looking back on that day I forget the frustrations, the inconveniences. Instead, I recall the gnarled brown hand of a friend and a branch of orange blossoms. Jessie H. Marker, Santa Barbara, California

Illustrated by E. Kay Watson