I'm cleaning up the rose petals from three pink posies that Carole brought me from her garden. For several days they filled La Perla with fragrance and color that lifted my oft-sagging spirit. Then the petals began to fall. Onto the table. Into a small Mexican dish. Their velvet softness scattered across the floor. This morning I gathered and tossed them outside the door. I wasn't prepared for the instantaneous response; how the sight of floating petals propelled me to the countryside of Denmark.
Several years ago my cousin Ole from Odense and I were traveling across Jutland in an effort to find some sign of my namesake, Grandma Christina, in old church records. We slowed the car as we entered a picturesque village, the only car on the road in a country that relies mainly on bikes and trains. Three little girls pushed dolls and teddy bears in carriages. They looked up and smiled wide as we slowly drew closer. In a sudden synchronous act, they reached into the buggies, pulled out handfuls of color and tossed rose petals in our path.
It was, simply, one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life, as their faces of glee met our shouts of surprise and laughter.
It was near summer solstice and flowers were thick in yards; small, homemade vegetable stands showed off gardens' first bounties. All across Denmark was the same: take what you want and slip money into the can on the counter. We stopped for gas at the far edge of town. Ole went inside to pay as I stood outside the car and watched teenaged girls canter ponies across fields of emerald green. I did not want to budge.
I would discover a few days later, in the archives of Copenhagen, that my Grandma was born near there. That rose petal welcome was a genuine coming home. My personal ticker-tape parade.