February 15, 2010
The intermittent rain would not deter Audrey from doing what had to be done.
Armed with pruning tools in the shrub border, she shortened an arching cane of a “Jacqueline du Pré” rose. She had too soft a hand, according to Felder. She’d read the manuals and knew she should whack the bush down to a few canes. It made sense; but sense didn’t necessarily belong in Audrey’s garden.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Felder said from behind her. “Be bold.”
She straightened. “I’m thinking I should put a gate in that hedge.”
Felder smiled. “Oh, somebody’s not in the mood for company—”
“Do you watch from the window, and then race over to tell me I’m doing it all wrong?”
This stopped him. “I’m awfully sorry, Audrey. I thought—”
“No, wait, wait—I didn’t mean that. I’m just preoccupied. I’d love your help.”
“Help is what I do best.” With a few swift strokes he had lopped old Jackie off at the knees. Audrey’s eyebrows were the only things left with arches in them.
“Let it breathe!” Felder said. “Roses like lots of air circulation, or you know what.”
“Black spot and mildew,” she said. “Felder, I’ll bet you were a good dad.” This brought a chuckle. “Do you see much of your kids now?”
“My ‘kids’ are probably your age.”
“And your point is?”
“Oh, yes, I s’pose I see them a fair amount. Two or three times a year.”
“That doesn’t seem like much.”
“Well, it wouldn’t to you. Now, your Evan is still at home.”
“Yes, physically. But our two older boys… well, we haven’t seen Todd in almost a year. He’s stationed in Japan.”
“Oh, a military man.”
“Air Force. Grab a corner, will you?” They each took a corner of the tarp and dragged it to the compost pile. Audrey grabbed the long loppers and began to systematically hack the canes into small pieces. “And Joe, well—ouch! Sonovagun!” Pain shot through her arm where a thorn had found the exposed skin between her sleeve and her hand. As she removed it, a button of blood appeared.
“Have you been watching the Olympics?” she asked.
“I can’t stop thinking about the luge racer who was killed. I, I don’t know why it’s affecting me so much.”
Felder gave her a clean tissue for the blood, then raised his eyes.
“Look,” he said. The sun was piercing the clouds. To the east, a rainbow formed a curved track in the sky.
©2010 Pam Wells