Mother’s Garden

Alan sat in his hammock enjoying the gentle breeze that shifted through his orange hair. It had been a long day and it felt good to finally relax. First he had mowed the lawn. Then he had painted the fence and finally he sprayed the front walk for ants. Meanwhile his mother had been working in her garden. It was a lazy garden. It only bloomed when it felt like it apparently. Some days you’d come outside and the flowers and plants would all be drooping to the side as though they were sighing. Other days the plants would have no blooms at all as if they just didn’t care. But Alan’s mother diligently worked in her garden day after day in hopes that one day it would sprout a prize winning rose or tulip. His mom’s favorite flower was the daffodil. Alan wasn’t sure why, but he knew that when his father was alive he would bring her home daffodils for every special occasion, and even sometimes just because he felt like it. Growing up Alan’s mother would call her flowers by unusual names. Not each individual flower, but each species had a special name that she had come up with. Her favorite was the name she had given to the daffodils: silly pickles because daffy mean silly and dills are pickles. Alan had gone to school one day and brought some “silly pickles” in for show and tell. When the teacher corrected him about the name of the flower hot tears streamed down his face as he became embarrassed and wondered why his mom had lied to him. Later his mother explained to him that it was just a nickname for the flower, like the way she and dad called him Al sometimes. It made him feel better. Flowers weren’t the only thing in his mother’s garden. She also planted vegetables that would pop up sounded by carnations and daisies. His father had liked fresh vegetables but Alan’s mom didn’t like the look of a vegetable garden. So they compromised and hid the vegetables among the other plants. Even though his father had died three years ago, Alan’s mom still planted the vegetables every season hoping to grow the counties biggest tomato or cucumber. Every year she would enter the state fair, the county fair, any fair that would let her in as a contestant. She would enter as many of the contests as she could always hoping for a blue ribbon. The day she finally won one was a day they had all celebrated. She had won for her bouquet of daffodils. The contest was to make the most beautiful arrangement using only one kind of flower. Dozens of people entered the contest, including many professional flower arrangers. But she managed to beat them because, she said, “I know what the flowers are thinking. I know how to make them look there best.” That’s what always amazed Alan about his mom: how she really did seem to understand her plants. Sometimes it even seemed to him that she understood her plants better than her own son. When Alan was growing up, in middle school mostly, he resented her garden and all the time she spent there. But now, being older and having children of his own he understood that her garden was a way for her to relax away from Alan. Especially on noisy summer days when Alan would be home with his friends playing “alien invader” or “pirate adventure.” Those days Alan’s mom would go outside and tend to the lazy

garden. Even if nothing needed to be weeded or sowed, she would go outside and sit on the lounger in the middle of the whole thing and read a book or just talk to the flowers. Once Alan walked in on his mother talking to the tulips and asked her why she was talking to a plant. She said that “sometimes, they’re the only ones who’ll listen to me.” She spoke sweetly and plainly so that Alan never noticed the pain in her voice. Sitting in the hammock that day Alan glanced over at his mother as she knelt down pulling weeds. He didn’t resent the garden now. Now that his father was gone, he was glad she had it.

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