Shaking loose the petals

Twice a year, I succumb to an urge for greenness around me.  May and September.  In the spring I haul home flats of begonias, petunias, and impatiens. I clean my porch-pots and trowel good earth into newly washed clay.  I fill the glazed pottery that I kept when my dear Joanna died, and the painted clay from my son’s grade-school years.  Three or four hours later I drop my body into a rocker, cold water beside me, and gaze with satisfaction on spring at the Holmes house.

In the fall, I pile tiny mums into the baby seat on a cart at Trader Joe’s.  Back at home, I ease their roots free of the plastic containers and settle them into dirt over the shiny stones that Katrina gives me every year in an amaryllis.  I sort through the shards of broken clay to find good chunks, burying them under soil.

A few days later, the grocery store mums have shaken loose their petals and stretched towards the southern sun.  I stand in the cool night air and admire their tenacity.  I can’t imagine how long ago they took root in some warehouse; what truck ride brought them to Kansas City; how root-bound they’ve been all summer.  But now here they thrive, glistening green leaves, vibrant blossoms.  On the far end of the deck, the last blooms of the spring plants raise themselves, straightening their stems, digging deep in the rich wet soil to try to match their autumn cousins.

I close the door to the house and turn on the porch light. The wind ripples the flag and gently stirs the chimes hanging from the porch that Chester built.  My day draws to an end.  When I rise in the morning, first thing, I’ll come back outside and sit among the flowers.


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