What you notice first are weeds. Dandelions about to seed. A tangle of bushes at the base of an old post that holds the white mailbox.
Everything is dusted in pollen and overrun, yet it is not altogether unwelcoming. You deem it a place where an elderly widow must reside, living on a fixed income and marking time until one generation cedes to the next, and a young couple or developer purchases, remodels, or rebuilds entirely.
You imagine the occupant: she is parked passively in front of a television, visited periodically by an anonymous caretaker. That is, if you imagine her at all.
As for the yard? Perhaps you consider her property an eyesore and wish she’d simply clean it up. Perhaps you understand it may be a matter of budget, or changing priorities. She is beyond tending to these things herself. The once pretty little garden. The once pretty little cottage.
It is Saturday. Landscaping services are coming and going. Workers are balanced on ladders and walking on rooftops. There is noise: blowers, mowers, motors you cannot identify. Strong men are cleaning gutters, trimming hedges, and cutting grass. Women are on their knees and in their gardening gloves with cultivators and trowels. They are setting out their flats of pansies and pinks, readying to plant.
This is a neighborhood of small spaces, or used to be, though many have been renovated to double, triple or quadruple their original size. A few remain starter homes, perfect for newlyweds or empty nesters.
A good house
You may be walking your dog, taking your morning run, or cruising through these quiet streets on your way to visit a friend. You glance at the house and dismiss it.
But it is a good house. Sturdy. Not entirely run down. The trim has been painted recently and someone has torn off a thicket of vines that were consuming the exterior. Dwarf azaleas line an area of the front garden, red and fuchsia. On the stoop sit two stone planters, cracked from extremes in heat and cold. Each contains another azalea, in full bloom.
A promising bed
Eventually, we are all the ivy-covered surface, the warm, worn brick, the contradictions of facades and flesh that weather, conspiring against immediate notice. Yet our bodies persist in celebrating stories. In wanting more. In seeking beauty. And finding it.
Spring is suddenly alive and vibrant. I am ravenous, although I am tired. Desirous, despite feeling slowed. I am captivated by softness in the air, a small measure of returning strength, and the hues of floral abundance everywhere I look. I wish to garden. To hold the rich earth between my fingers. To feel.
I am not made for marking time, and I cannot tend to tidying my bed. I am stronger, but not yet strong enough. You must take me as I am – weeds and blooms. With more seasons to come. More tales to spin.