October 2011

Last Breath of Light

Dusk falls on Halloween night and a last breath of light hovers in our garden. Near me a dawn redwood shines like weathered copper, and the flowering stems of Miscanthus 'Little Kitten' stand like candlesticks gathering remnants of evening light. To the west, Eucalyptus trees are held in silhouette against a fiery sky. The string of tiny orange lights, strung about the side entrance to the house, anticipates the arrival of young guests. Although evening commitments await me, I resist going inside. I long to hold time, to savor this moment. Walking along the pathways of the garden I attempt to etch memories into my mind.

The air is unusually hot and clouds of humming insects tumble from tree to shrub. In the meadow stiff stalks of cane bluestem stroke the air like sable paintbrushes. Further down the path the last leaves on the cottonwood, stir in the wind, before twirling to the ground. Crossing the front of the house, I notice the California grape changing color. The dry,...

Fan Man

The repeated thud of heavy footsteps, exploded suddenly outside the office door. Looking up I saw the tall lean figure of a thirteen-year-old boy, moving in that awkward, disconnected way that children move, when pre-adolescence overtakes their limbs. He careened round the back of the house, running full tilt toward the path beneath my office window. Pebbles flew from his feet, ricocheting off the wood siding and striking the glass pane with a ‘ping’. Legs churning, he tore past looking straight ahead, oblivious to my gaze, eyes wide as chocolate-brown saucers, and long arms flying at his sides like the wings of a glider teetering to a landing. With an expression of utter determination, he bolted for the nursery time clock. His workday in the garden had ended. Peeking out the screen door, I was hard pressed to imagine the large depressions, left on the path, belonging to the feet of a boy.

At his request, his parents had inquired about a summer job in my nursery and garden...