"Is this it?" I asked as I handed it to her. She raised her glasses with one hand and squinted her 91+ year old eyes to see what she held in the other hand. "Yes. Yes. That's it. Where was it?" "It was right where you said it was, except across the street. Now that no one is mowing anymore, I saw it."
Heaven knows that in my time on this earth and growing up in that town, I've been on that road hundreds, if not thousands, of times. And all that time, this plant was growing there, defiantly withstanding lawn mowers each summer. Now that the mowing has ceased for yet another winter, the low spreading leaves of the Common Mallow were easy to spot as I drove by.
Success! This was my greatest triumph. So often I feel like I'm racing against the clock, trying to solve mysteries for my mother and myself while she is still with us.
The plant from her memories still exists, as it did 60 years ago when my grandmother made cold remedies from it. I carefully placed the leaf in my mother's Woman's Home Companion Cook Book (1946), which she had given to me several years ago.
Elusive, still, is the sweet cicely and the "bread and butter" tree she speaks of, whose leaves she would stack in threes and chew, as one would a sandwich. Perhaps that discovery is for another day.