Weiser, ID

Jan 6, 2017

My grandparents' home sits in state on Pioneer Road in Weiser, Idaho. Aptly named as my grandfather was a true western pioneer who arrived in this country at age 16 at the tail end of the Civil War and eventually became one of Weiser's founding fathers. He built that place for his bride and there they raised their seven daughters, five of whom survived childhood. My mother was the youngest.

I can still remember the smell of hay drifting over the meadows behind the house and the slap of the wooden screen door as I scampered out the kitchen to the garden, barefoot and armed with a salt shaker to gorge on warm, red tomatoes, fresh off the vine. Adjacent to the rows of tomatoes and cucumbers and green beans destined for the cellar shelves to live on as pickles and relish, were beds the length of the house filled with zinnias taller than me, which wasn't that difficult to do, but impressive nonetheless. I'm sure there were other flowers there as well but the zinnias have remained in my soul to this day. I can still feel the sun on my nose as I squinted up at their majesty.

Only now have I had a home where they thrive. They signify so much to me. They are brash and strong and outlast all others that wither to mush in a heavy downpour. They are beautiful chameleons that can't quite decide if they want to be coral or pink so they decide to be both and then fade to a dignified mauve in old age. They endure beyond summer. Beyond autumn into the winter they give up their last seeds to hungry birds that rely on their generosity. I admire their altruism, their strength, their dignity. Last summer they were under assault by ravenous rabbits. Even then they outwitted their enemies and feigned defeat only to reemerge stronger than ever.

It must have taken gumption to come to this country and make one's own way. I can only imagine my grandmother's first impression of the wild west her husband brought her to from her sleepy shire in Scotland. Looking at my sisters and all our children I can see the Fisher strength and determination living on, I hope a little of that trickled down into me. At the very least they gave me a great gift, a deep appreciation for this glorious flower that endures against it all.

Painting: Zinnia © Lissa Banks 2017