Generating Our Own Warmth



I took some photos of skunk cabbage last week.

It’s not the most attractive of plants…and it truly does smell like skunk…but it’s one of the first things to show green up here in northern Michigan, well insulated by the big lake.

Now I hate to say too much, for I’ll surely get it wrong, but there is something about skunk cabbage that is mammal-like, in that it has the ability to generate its own warmth. It wakes up at just about the same time each Spring, whether it is warm or cold. I’ve seen it push up through the deep snow, actually melting the snow in a small circle around itself. I’m pretty sure it is unique in the plant world. It is always a welcome sight, letting us know that better weather is coming.

Last weekend, three nieces, three sisters and I pulled off a similar feat.

We were all, in our own way, dreading this first Mother’s Day without our mother.

My baby sister, Amy, spoke it out loud, and her lovely daughters arranged a trip. They generously invited all of us to join them, and seven of us made the trip. We traveled by train to Chicago, we boarded at 6:45 Friday morning and arrived in the city early in the afternoon. We took taxis when necessary, but were able to walk most places.

We dined, shopped and enjoyed the art and architecture. We played cards and drank martinis together. We talked about ex-husbands, current husbands and future husbands, and the generations fell away in laughter and sharing. We saw a wonderful play.

Mostly we relished the time together. We sent postcards to the brother and sisters who weren’t there, and reminisced about those who would never again be with us. There were moments of melancholia, but many more laughs than tears. We are building a foundation of memories to move forward on. Like the skunk cabbage, we’re creating our own little circle of warmth.


In order of age – as we’ve posed for pictures our entire lives – four sisters: Brenda, Cindy, Robin and Amy.


18 responses »

  1. What a lovely post. There are so many times we need to generate our own warmth to shield us from cold realities. It’s comforting to be able to generate warmth with people we’ve known our whole lives. I’m sure your mother was and forever will be proud of all of her lovely daughters.

  2. Thank you, Sara! I have always appreciated my family, but never as much as I have in this last year. I’m very fortunate to have them all! Thanks for reading, and for your sweet comment.

  3. This is a really touching post, Cindy. I hope that your Mother’s Day went well, encircled as you were in the warmth created with your sisters.

  4. It was a wonderful Mother’s Day, Dana, thanks for asking. I think holidays are especially hard, because it underlines the loss when a tradition is upended. This was a great way to avoid all of that: a totally different location, but surrounded by loved ones. Thanks for reading!

  5. A lovely post Cindy, from your circle of warmth and your reflections on your mother. I found the first anniveraries the hardest, but you did a wonderful thing, you connected with your sisters. Best wishes, Claire

  6. How lovely to have all these beautiful girls as your sisters with you. I’m an only. My mother always says she could see how it was going down the road with me and stopped while she was ahead. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, it IS lovely! My mother was an only child, and often felt lonely. She wanted each of us to have brothers and sisters to lean on. She had eleven children! There are seven of us left, and we certainly do depend on and lean on and love one another…which, I feel, is the very best tribute to her. Thanks for reading!

  7. I love it!! Glad you had fun!! It was a very hard Mothers Day, for me. Thanks for the postcard, I love you and miss you too!!

    • We all missed having you there, but it was a wonderful time. Maybe we’ll make it an annual trip…it was a great time to be in Chicago. We found the place – still standing – where the theater fire was, that Grandma Florence’s mother escaped from, saw a great musical (Mom would have loved that!), and you know, euchre, chat, eat, laugh, cry…our usual. It was fantastic! Maybe next year ALL the sisters?!

  8. This is lovely, Cindy. How lucky you are to have sisters! I’ll bet you did melt the snow around you…and remembered your mother with much heart and soul.

    • Oh, I do feel SO lucky to have sisters, Kathy! I am thankful every day for all they add to my life. We may not have seen actual snow, but our chatter and laughter did warm the city up a bit…especially on martini night! Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s