Every Spring, a field of forget-me-nots appears in my parents’ front yard.
In some ways, they’re not the most showy of flowers and aren’t unlike lantana in appearance, which has become a weed of plague proportions throughout the Australian bush.
Yet, there’s a sweetness about them and although the flowers are quite small and seemingly insignificant, they’re a brilliant blue and for so many of us, there’s that sentimental connection. They remind us of someone, perhaps somebody who has passed away and they remind us of once upon a time.
What I didn’t know, was that there are a few legends about how the forget-me-not received its name.
In one German legend, it is said that as God was naming all of the plants, one tiny blue flower did not want to be overlooked, so the flower called out, “Forget me not, Lord.”
In a different legend, it is said that a boy and a girl were walking by a river that flows into the Rhine. The girl saw a lovely flower growing just by the water’s edge. The bank of the river was steep and the water swift.
“Oh, the beautiful flower!” she cried.
“I will get it for you,” said the boy. He sprang over the side of the steep bank and, catching hold of the shrubs and bushes, made his way to the place where the flower grew.
He tried to tear the plant from the earth with both hands, hoping to get it all for her who was watching him from the bank above.
The stem broke and, still clasping the flower, he fell backward into the rushing stream.
“Forget me not!” he cried to her as the waters bore him down to the falls below. She never did forget her blue-eyed friend who had lost his life trying to get her a flower.
“Forget me not!” she would say over and over until her friends called the little blue flower by this name.
Not unsurprisingly, forget-me-nots remind me of my Mum and Dad but also my Mum’s Mum for some reason. I could see her liking them and she was a very sentimental person and like my Mum, she also had the most incredibly pretty blue eyes.
So when I saw a forget-me-not tea cup, saucer and plate for sale on eBay, I had to have it. However, the forget-me-not seems to be associated with tragedy because although the tea cup arrived safely in the mail, it fell and broke shortly after. Indeed, I’d only used it once. It sat on the sideboard in pieces looking sad and forlorn, for some time and I wondered whether I should simply throw it out but how can you forget a forget-me-knot and eventually my husband got out the Superglue and fixed up a host of my mistakes. Like so many of us, it bears the scars of experience but through this near loss, it’s gained appreciation and an understanding that even a tea cup doesn’t need to be perfect!
Do forget-me-knots have a special meaning to you? Any stories? I’d love you to share!
Project Gutenberg Classic Myths Retold by Mary Catherine Judd with drawings entirely from classic sources http://www.gutenberg.org/files/9855/9855-h/9855-h.htm#xxxviii
The River by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne). August 1850. Steel etching. Illustration for chapter 47, “Martha,” in Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield.