In the Garden


The Woman

There was a knock at the door.  My first reaction was to call for Kate; but she had endured too many interruptions of late.  I looked down, at myself, to check that I was presentable, and walked to the front door.  I looked through the peep hole, there was an unknown woman – but she was carrying flowers!

The woman, who came to deliver flowers, asked if I was Stella, I said no, she is my Mother.  So what is your name, she then asked.  Suspiciously, I paused before answering.  Hmm, why does she want to know?  But a second later, I thought does she have flowers for me too?  I said Jill.  She then said:  I really like your garden.  Oh, thank you I said, tickled by the nice surprise.

Through all of the ups and downs of that day, after the midnight hour had long since passed and I finally set the dishwasher to go, the woman’s sweet words have kept me company and repeatedly made me smile.  I have thought about how she saw the garden through a florist eyes, and regretted the bags of mulch we bought the day before and had not yet laid down, as well as the pavers we picked up from the hurricane garden, and had not yet carted off to the back.  But despite the incomplete projects, she still liked my garden.  I told Kate my regrets, and she promptly said it was okay, the woman could see we were working.  Alright, but I could not help but wish it had been tidier.  But gardeners know the work is never finished.

I thought about the Joan’s and Evelyn, who now have all three moved away, and how we use to exchange plants, in the early days, when we were all new to the Village and trying to fix up our yards.  I have remembered our garden club and all of the clippings and plants we shared; and I have thought about the Master Gardner’s which I abandoned over politics.  It was nice sharing plants – now I stop poor Maria, when she is walking to church or on one of her runs around the neighborhood, and offer her plants she does not want.  Phil use to come out when I was working, and comment on my efforts, telling me about his own garden – he had a fig tree in New York, that he used to cover, in the winter, with Andy’s swimming pool – Phil was so proud of himself, and rightly so.  Ruth would come out and tell me how she did not garden herself, but appreciated my efforts.

Lately, Nour stops by more often, walking his Little, a precious Cocker-Spaniel, who is full of life and joy; he brings Mother the paper, and they chat on the front porch, or we sit in the Secret Garden, hidden from the world.  I think he appreciates the garden, or at least appreciates the pleasure it brings me.

A few days ago, when Kate came home, after having been gone for over a week, she commented on the red spots on my; face, and said: “You have been working in the garden.”  I had, how did she know?  Oh yes, the red spots.  I had noticed the spots, but forgotten I was allergic to my garden.  She remembered.  There were things I wanted to do, I told her, she said I should wait and let her do it.  There are not enough hours in her day already, I shall not add to her burden, and it is not the same, as there is pleasure in the effort.

The woman’s words have lingered.  I have wondered how much time she spent, in the garden, before knocking on my door.  Did she venture toward the side of the house, and see the Succulent Garden in bloom?   I have tried to imagine what she liked and wished I had engaged her – a garden has to be shared.  I have missed sharing my garden.  How nice that a total stranger would bother to engage me, and take note of our little garden.

I shall share my blooming succulents with you!  That is all for now.


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