My grandmother, Magdalena (Hirschy) Cook, attended school for several grades and then she was forced to drop out to assist with the financial hard times facing the world that she was raised in. Part of her school time at the old Baker School was spent in frustration because she couldn’t understand the language that was spoken by her teacher.

With a solid Swiss background, grandma hadn’t learned to speak English when she began attending first grade classes at the one-room school located on the edge of a large wooded area at the intersection of roads 700 S and 300 E. She would often speak of crying out of frustration because she couldn’t initially understand the English language being spoken around her.

Eventually, with assistance from her teacher and the switch to English in their Swiss home, she learned to speak the language of the new frontier emerging around her.

Although grandma had a difficult time speaking English in the beginning, there was another language that she brought into this world in her heart that was very fluent from the beginning of her life; it was the language of flowers.

My earliest memories of this nature-attuned lady center around flowers, including spring flowers, summer flowers, decorative flowers, garden flowers, inside flowers, cemetery flowers, and the joy of giving bouquets to neighbors and friends in various circumstances of life.

To this day, one of the quickest ways to take a journey back to childhood days is to imagine or experience the aromas of hyacinths, peonies, lilacs, or the sweet smells of springtime greeting me as I stepped off the bus at our Ceylon residence and walked toward the back door of our country home.

I can still remember the floral orchestrated aroma of our crabapple tree, apple trees, pear trees, peach trees, and cherry blossoms all emerged into one blended aroma of praise to the Creator in those early weeks of Indiana spring. The irises, peonies, tulips, and pansies would quickly follow.

In the morning of Memorial Day, we would pick available flowers, usually irises and peonies at the time, place them in jars, put the jars in a box, and set out for the cemetery to decorate graves of relatives and close friends with hand-picked bouquets in their memory. Quite often, there would be friendly conversations of others who were doing the same thing.

As summer flowers emerged, bouquets and arrangements often made nice friendship gestures that accompanied visits to next-door neighbors. A colorful arrangement passed over the back fence was always a good way of placing a smile on someone’s heart and informing them about how much they were appreciated. I learned early on that to do this in the language of flowers in one small action often transcended hundreds of words that couldn’t adequately express the feelings of the heart.

Later, when I read the book “Anne of Green Gables,” I discovered a quote that indicated that Anne understood the same thing I had come to appreciate about the wordless heart language passed on by various flower types.

“I love my garden, and I love working in it,” Anne said in a chapter entitled, “Anne’s House of Dreams.” “To potter with green, growing things, watching each day to see the dear, new sprouts come up, is like taking a hand in creation. Just now my garden is like faith, the ‘substance of things hoped for.’”

Anne also ascribed various meaningful characteristics to various types of flowers.

Concerning pansies, she said, “There was a pansy bed at Green Gables, and ‘you found pansies everywhere at Ingleside.’ Pansies were my favorite in my own ‘Anne Garden.’ They never failed to cheer my journey up through the walkway as they made their ‘little faces’ at me!”

To this very day, when I plant the summer garden, I make sure that there is at least one section of giant zinnias, because one of my favorite pictures of my grandmother was taken with her, decked in her sun bonnet, holding a hoe in the midst of a large cluster of zinnias.

Of course, there has to be snapdragons and “dusty millers,” representing my mother, and various other flowers representing other special individuals blending a spirit of peace in the garden of my heart. For my wife, Joyce, it is a drive along country roads or a walk in the woods to pick various wildflowers.

Often in the night, if I’m restless or my mind is racing, I imagine myself walking into the accumulated years of gardening and thinking of the flowers and the people they represent. It’s amazing how quickly peace returns and how the aroma of bygone flower memories assists in drifting back to sleep.

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about,” said Anne in “Green Gables,” chapter 11. “It just makes me feel glad to be alive. It’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it?”