He plopped himself into the red leather recliner, coffee within reach, in his favorite spot by the oversized picture window.
This had become a daily ritual, rain or shine. But this mid-May morning on the Olympic Peninsula was warming as clouds gave way to the sun. The world outside burst forth with a little more newfound vigor each day, as if eager to tell an exciting story. Hundreds of birds swarmed everywhere, drawn to the lake. He was five miles from Puget Sound, the still snowy Olympic Mountains 20 miles hidden by forest at his back, sipping hot coffee and welcoming a new dawn.
His attention was snatched from the distant horizon by a clematis vine that had grown fast and with wild abandon, defying the constraints of its trellis. It leaned precariously, the weight of its impending blooms threatening to send it toppling over.
Without skipping a beat, he saw this as a problem to solve, and pictured the bundle of vine tied together with garden tape and secured to a screw or nail tacked high on a nearby post. Oddly enough, this train of thought triggered a memory of his late wife, the one who would have surely challenged his idea.
As he had toured this place (before paying too much two summers ago), he vividly recalled this front flower garden in riotous bloom, thinking it was a sight that would have delighted her. It was one of the reasons he decided to settle here, where her spirit could feel at home, and he could pretend she might be drawn to it. Memories of her in those days infused each such thought with a touch of sadness, but also with a sense of contentment.
She had been a free-spirited gardener, constantly planting and tending a growing gallery, allowing the plants to roam and thrive as they pleased. She embraced theEnglish style that bordered on anarchy. It looked like a jumble to him, but it also worked. Somehow. It rubbed him the wrong way. He couldn’t quite put his finger on why until this very moment—two years after he’d moved here, five years and one month after her passing.
Control of things like this, it seemed, was embedded in him.
He admired the beauty of plants, yet craved some order and tidiness. Balance. Harmony. He recognized that this trait, if indulged, could veer into unhealthy territory. But being a writer, he also was no stranger to appreciating details. Editing his garden became just another facet of this peculiar pleasure, untethered from the expectations of others, including his wife of five decades. He felt a pang of guilt, but of the many things he missed about her, that particular quibble wasn’t one of them.
Returning his gaze outside, he marveled at the top-heavy clematis, its imminent cascade of blooms threatening to one kind of sensibility. His. But then, in a moment of surrender, he decided to let them be.
Let’s see what they do, he thought. Nature will figure it out.
The sun silently warmed to the idea, as well.