When I was a teenager, our mom gave each of us a hyacinth bulb one year for Christmas. As I recall, it came with a glass that allowed the bulb to sit suspended, with the roots growing into the cup of water below. Having the chance to grow one indoors was magical. With just one to focus on, I could see the changes day by day. The scent was intoxicating. It’s been a favorite ever since.
Several years ago I bought a half a dozen hyacinth bulbs at our local Costco. They’ve moved from place to place over the years, but just when I think they’re spent, a few come back. Three of them popped up on the back patio last week. They’ve been nibbled here and there, but they’re pretty just the same. The scent carries me back, as they often do, to our small apartment growing up: powerful, fragrant and at times bittersweet.