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On my way to the front door, I noticed a red flickering among branches of boxwood hedges outside my front window, rollicked by April’s sun-washed breezes—unlike anything I had ever seen before. My heart quickened.

Planted in my flowerbed was a pair of red tulips, their petals full-blown, their color speaking of love.

Then, I remembered. Three years ago, I’d had such a surprise; only then, it was daffodils. When my gardener-friend had prepared my garden and shrubs for that winter, she’d planted the daffodils. It took a while for me to catch on.

Her professional and loving care of my property taught me about flowers and shrubs that further enhanced my home. Her spirit seemed to brighten the harder she worked, often soaked to the skin, her floppy sunhat tied under her chin, her belt of tools swaying with her movements. Lugging yard waste heaped atop a tarp to her white truck signaled the end of that day’s work, not without sweeping the walks and sharing stories about her grandchildren.

What recently impressed me was her disclosure of prayer with Creator God as she clipped, raked, pulled, dug, watered, planted, and mulched. No wonder such orderliness and beauty have followed in the wake of her gloved hands.

I’m grateful, but the red tulips enjoying today’s sun express it better to Peg, my gardiner-friend.

A city-dweller lives in a bungalow with electric blue shutters and door.

Her name is Ocie.


Faded shirt and cut-off trousers flap on her withered body.

Snow-hills of cropped hair bespeak innocence.

Her clouded bead-black eyes seep wisdom.

Toothless hilarity crinkles burnished cheeks.

Decades of stooping bonded her with the earth:

nurturing plants on back porch,

encircling her home with riotous roses, phlox, daisies, zinnias, marigolds,

cutting back spent foliage, harvesting seeds for next season’s planting,

mating canaries in spindly cages and selling them.


Dusty curio cupboards house 4,000 salt and pepper shakers from road trips.


Yet a stroke froze her arm and leg, messed up her heart.


No matter.

Scratchy mutts and kids still find her backdoor.

Mating turtles thrive on her breadcrumbs.

Black cats shadow her dusty feet, dragging on kitchen floor.


From the kitchen window, her untended garden mirrors her wildness.

Within world laughter, she awaits the New Planting.



Note: This 87 year-old home care patient, named after her mother’s favorite soap opera character, taught me much during our 1994 kitchen visits. She still teaches.




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