The wisteria is showing off with clusters of purple blooms around the culdesac. It sends my mind reeling back to dozens of springs here in southeastern North Carolina.

Every house our family has lived in had it growing in the yard – or within sight of it. It seems to start blooming as soon as the weather is nice enough to let us fire up the grill. We’ve spent many afternoons sitting around the patio table appreciating the wisteria while Brandon grills steaks.

Belle was particularly obsessed with it when she was little. Somehow her bedroom always winds up looking out on blooming wisteria – her favorite flower.

I can’t blame her. It’s hard not to love the clustered blooms. People adored the vine so much that they imported it all the way from China and Japan in the early to mid-1800s. They planted it near their homes and trained it to drape over porch banisters. Of course, back then, people didn’t realize the plant would spread willy nilly across the South.

Which is why I’ve never planted wisteria myself. I haven’t needed to. The woody vine that belongs to the pea family can be spotted all across the state. It snakes up trees on the sides of the roads and cascades over fences in the parks. It’s considered invasive around here – and for a good reason. The vines often choke out native flora, and they’re so strong they can decimate a porch.

I can’t help loving it anyway. The sweet scent, reminiscent of grape hard candy, floats on the breeze. I usually smell it before I spot it – and I associate that scent with all the good things in life: springtime, family, cookouts, and home.

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