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“Just a little more—Easy—Just a little more—There! That’s it,” barked the seasoned supervisor, wearing hardhat and DayGlo vest, as he waved to the driver seated in the cab of the concrete mixer. As the drum ground to a halt, another workman power-hosed the trough before the next pour.     

The ten-member crew from the woman-owned Sweetens Concrete Services had been working on our court for two weeks, the final phase of replacing a malfunctioning storm sewer. This afternoon’s work brought them to the front of my bungalow, and I had to watch.

The guys, also wearing rubber boots and other protective gear, knew exactly what to do. Some smoothed the wet concrete to the edges of long boards secured in the ground by spikes; some, with rakes, filled out the designated area; some moved long-handled placers, appearing like wide maintenance brooms, for further smoothing; some knelt by the curb and, with trowels, edgers, and groovers continued the smoothing.

After perhaps five minutes, the supervisor turned on the vibratory plate compactor and slowly swept it over the new concrete, giving it the appearance of the street next to it. More tweaking with long-handled brushes left striations on the surface to prevent falls when rain-soaked.

Significant lessons surfaced as I went indoors. More than evident were the crew’s precision, their practiced eye, and their hardened bodies; their camaraderie added brightness and color to the afternoon. But painfully as well was how I’d taken concrete streets and sidewalks for granted for my convenience, with no thought of the intensive labor involved to construct them.

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.

Do you love me? – John 21: 15

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