Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mrs. Wallace

Early one summer night (2010), at 7:45 p.m., I heard a lawnmower fire up. I couldn't determine where this was coming from or who was doing lawn work at dark on a work night. I went out on the front porch and listened ~ . It seemed to be coming from a house around the corner. We hadn't seen the owners in years and I think  probably both owners are deceased now.

The wife died years ago. I would often see her working in her garden. To the casual observer, the tiny front yard was just a plot of over grown grasses and weeds; dead flowers that were now dry and brittle sticks with heads shriveled and brown leaves scattered beneath ~ remnants of glorious blooms from long ago. 

Dressed in her down vest, I would see her shuffle up to the tall grass or a petrified rose bush, and slowly work in one area or another. Her gnarled fingers addressed each plant as if it were a prized specimen. I imagine, to her, the garden was in full bloom ~ wild grasses dancing in the breeze and big cabbage roses, fragrant and plentiful. Neat and tidy paths of old red brick led her from plant to tree to bush. She never spoke but quietly pruned and plucked all that did not 'belong'. She would spend hours grooming her tiny garden until it got too cool or the sun began to sink. Then, almost reluctantly, she would straighten her small frame a bit and toddle back to the house.

Every so often, a lone sunflower or a stray cluster of morning glories from previous seasons would appear, unannounced and never in the same place. To her, those little sprinkles of color must have been like diamonds.

Just recently, I learned the family name was Wallace. I never met Mrs. Wallace; she never spoke or acknowledged me when Annie, Pete and I would pass by on our walks. Yet I think we were kindred spirits...both loving our gardens and the beauty they held.