“The grass is always greener where you water it.” That quote was driving her mad. She’d stared at the peony cutting nestled in her grandmother’s teacup for two days, knowing that no one would ever understand how that sentiment could wreak as much havoc with a soul as offer hope. She’d lived in the world of “Do More” for so long that her self-esteem was near dead. Not because she hadn’t tried, but because all of her efforts had met failure.
A branch from the culprit, her beloved apple tree, scratched at the window, reminding her that it needed attention. Her resentment was full-blown which added to her guilt; she knew no one would understand that either. She’d chosen the tree years ago because she’d always wanted a fruit tree. But there had been problems from the start. She’d read up on pruning and fertilizing and had done all the right things as far as apple trees go. She was no expert, so she kept at it, year after year, hoping for fruit that wasn’t worm-infested or inedible. How could it be resistant to all of her care? That, she knew, meant that something was wrong with her.
But what could she do? What should she do?
“Stick with it. You bought it.” Those were the thoughts that she fed herself when her mind hungered for direction. “It’s a living thing. Don’t abandon it. It will surely die without your care,” sang the wind to lull her to sleep after an exhausting day. She’d received more advice on how to care for her tree than she could shake a stick at, as they say. But she was getting nowhere with the tree. She was desperate for answers and walked endlessly to clear her mind. Maybe she’d be guided to the wisdom of the Master Gardener? It was becoming more of a long-shot, but she was loyal if nothing else.
It was almost two years to the day that she’d set out for her daily renewal and had been gifted by the heavenly sight of the hidden garden. Her heart sensed the immediate conflict: this is what you’ve been missing, but it’s not yours. Two distinct emotions started a steady tear down the center of her being: profound sadness, and exquisite joy.
She’d met the Gardener within minutes of passing through the gate. He was kind and wise and let her wander the grounds as she pleased. For two years he listened as she explained her problems with her apple tree, and gave advice here and there. He grew accustomed to her regular visits and admitted to being annoyed with her every now and then. But for the most part, they were best friends who grew to love each other and depend on their time together. What’s more was that he had fruit trees that yielded more fruit than he could eat. So he sent her home every day with delectable treasures.
The peony in the cup stared back at her. Its presence reminded her of her new reality: no more visits to the garden and no more time with the Gardener.
She stood, suddenly remembering the potted peony sitting on her front steps. She’d plant it later, or maybe not at all. But today she had to somehow make the gardener aware of the bulbs she’d planted a few days ago, the day before she was told that she was no longer welcome.They were lilies and she knew he’d want to know that they were there. She’d drop a note in the mailbox about them. She’d seen the box perched precariously on a metal rod, lodged among the rocks at the entrance to the garden.
She hastily wrote a note: “At the foot of the foot-bridge, on the opposite side of the river, I’ve planted some lily bulbs. Just wanted you to know that they’re there. Sorry I didn’t ask. Thought you’d enjoy them. They’ll need watering. Take care.”
Moments later she was closing the mailbox door. Looking up she saw the now-notorious sign and the padlocked gate. She tried hard to come to terms with her loss. Why were the no-trespassing rules suddenly applied to her? Why had it taken so long – two years – to lay down the law?
She turned and left. Those questions would have to hang in the air for now. Her heart would either survive or it wouldn’t. That didn’t matter much anymore.
The Gardener watched her retreat and was perplexed. The key went unused. He surmised that she’d made her decision and she was happier without him. He left his hiding spot and returned to the care of his garden. Today he’d repair the foot-bridge.