I inherited neighbors when I got married. They’re sisters in their eighties. They are garden queens. Less than they used to be; it’s a lot of work. But Garden Queens, man. They had a huge vegetable garden. We got gifts of lettuce and peppers and I don’t even remember what else.
And the flowers. They had a huge planting along the lane to our house. People drove past it to come to our house, and they’d compliment me on our gorgeous flowers. I always said thank you. And then confessed. Not mine. I kill things. I don’t do it on purpose; it just happens.
So I soaked up the reflected glory from the flowers and enjoyed the vegetables when they came our way, with gratitude.
As they’ve aged, they’ve slowed down on the gardening, though they still have twenty kinds of hostas under cultivation, I think. The huge planting by the lane is no more, and the vegetable garden has shrunk. Now Levi carries offerings from the boys’ garden over to their house on summer evenings.
A few weeks ago, when the peonies were at their height, Twila called and asked if she could get some for their church flowers the next day. “Yes!” I said. Peonies are meant to be shared. “Get as many as you want.”
Twila called again the other day. She’d seen the hydrangea bush exploding all over the place, and wondered if she could come get a few.
“Yes!” I said again. “Get all the hydrangeas you want.” The bush is ridiculous. She could take thirty and there’d be a lot left.
“I think it’s funny,” she said. “Don’t you?”
“Um, what’s funny?” I said.
“Us getting flowers from you.”
It is funny. It approaches hilarious. I’d never have believed it ten years ago. Five, even.
But here we are. Circumstances change. People do unexpected things, like plant six peony bushes after disavowing gardening their entire lives. And come up with hydrangeas out of nowhere, like spring flowers popping up in the ditches along country roads.
We’re full of surprises, we humans. Some of them are even good ones.