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  • Joan Carris


Let us be grateful to people who make us happy.

They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

~~ Marcel Proust

One memorable spring—way, way back there—I was sitting on our front steps, anticipating a delivery. In our new, too-large front yard I had a too-large, sickle-shaped flower bed that needed help. I waited, excited, gardening tools at the ready.

My neighbors had warned me months ago when we moved in. “Your soil is lousy,” they’d said. “You need a ton of the real thing.”

On delivery day I watched as an elderly pick-up truck bumped down our long, graveled driveway. The truck stopped and the small, very old driver leaned out of his window. “This the right place?” he hollered. “I got a whole load here!”

I bounded off my steps and raced toward the pick-up—I was 34 then, so bounding and racing were still possible—“Oh, yes! This is the place! I am soooo happy you’re here!!”

I smelled it right away. The real thing—moist and richly decorated with bits of hay and straw among the fresh dung. Horse manure, and all mine.

The old man and a very dirty teenage boy looked at me in silence.

Maybe I needed to explain. I told them about my inherited love of gardening, the giant dahlia bulbs on the way as a gift from my father…. I knew I was babbling, so I pointed at the large flower bed. “That is going to be just beautiful in a few months, thanks to both of you! I’m very grateful, really!!”

The old man looked at the teenager and nodded. “We should probably help her spread it around some, don’t you think?”

The three of us worked together, gradually talking more as the morning went on. The old man’s wife of 60 years had recently died, and the boy was his youngest grandson. I explained that I was an English teacher and mother of three. We took a break and drank Cokes in the shade on the front steps. With the work completed, I paid them, sorry to see them leave. I remember that we all were happy and nodding and smiling at one another.

Recommended Reading:

How The Penguins Saved Veronica, Hazel Prior

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse (all ages), Charlie Mackesy

Northern Borders, Howard Frank Mosher

Thank You For Being Late, Thomas Friedman

Three Bags Full, A Sheep Mystery, Leonie Swann


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