In the springtime, various colorful flowers dotted my grandma’s garden. My favorite is the Bongsunhwa (Impatiens Balsamina) “봉숭아.” This was the only season I liked working in my grandma’s garden, because my grandma would pick the petals off the Bongsunhwa and make traditional Korean nail polish. You take the leaves and grind them into a watery pulp, and apply them to clean fingernails. Tie the fingernails with saran wrap for a few hours and then wipe the mixture off. The result is bright orange fingernails that last about two weeks before they completely fade. I used to be an avid nail bitter when I was little, so applying a nail color that wouldn’t chip after biting my nails was a game-changer. I would beg my grandma to make the polish for me whenever the color faded. As much as she complained about my killing her Bongsunhwa flowers, she dyed my nails every time.
On the fence outlining my grandma’s house, there were these bright, always full red roses. The rose bush weaved in–and-out of the fence, tastefully beckoning passersby to stop by her house to smell, examine, and compliment her flowers. In Korea, a house teeming with myriad flowers were a sign of prosperity. But my grandma was picky about flowers. She hated flowers that were white, they reminded her of funerals, and pastel colored, because they didn’t stand out. She enjoyed colors so vibrant they hurt to look at for long periods of time. Red roses remind my grandma of times when my mom and her siblings still lived with my grandparents. At my grandparent’s old house when my mom was little, the front lawn and back garden would be covered in red roses, always perfect.
I am reminded of my grandma, so I wrote this. Here’s another story of her.