Picking Trailing Arbutus

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, April 15, 1911:  Besse was out this afternoon. We three kids went for arbutus and I got some this time. Still have a toothache.

Trailing Arbutus (Mayflower)

 Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

It sounds like a fun day for three sisters—Grandma, Ruth and their married sister Besse. The trailing arbutus must have just started blooming since Grandma had been unable to find any two days earlier.

Trailing arbutus are also called mayflowers. I found a description online about  what it was like to pick them:

I have such crisp memories of picking wild mayflowers with my brother. Scrounging around on the sun-splashed forest floor, moving decaying leaves with our bare hands to find a delicately scented flower smaller than a dime.

Trailing arbutus are not easy to find; their flowers tend to hide under the leaves. It takes quite a few flowers to make even a small bunch, but they were worth it.

Brenda Visser

Grandma first mentioned the toothache in the diary four days ago on April 11.

10 thoughts on “Picking Trailing Arbutus

    1. I absolutely love your description of gathering trailing arbutus. Until I read your vignette I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to pick it. Now I feel like I can envision my grandmother and her sisters talking, laughing, and generally having fun together as they searched for trailing arbutus on a pleasant spring day.

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