I return from my walk along the stream holding a small bunch of red wildflowers. They had caught my eye immediately, the bright crimson hue shaking me from a daze of deep thought. Their lush, velveteen, petals blared forth from the greens and tans of the surrounding foliage like dime-sized drops of blood floating on the breeze. I had never seen them on the property before, which seemed odd. This was one of my favorite paths to walk.
“You don’t belong here,” I said, as I picked some to bring home. As soon as I spoke I realized what a ridiculous idea this was. Obviously the flowers belonged here more than in our kitchen, severed and in a glass vase. I was pretty sure, too, that they had a more fitting home here amongst the wind and the weeds than in the possession of someone who most likely would never see them.
But I keep hoping. And I keep doing things that make little sense. Less sense by the day.
When I walk up the driveway, you are crouched down by the flower garden, rooting around some geraniums that you recently planted. The sun lights up your hair like fire. Your face is furrowed with effort.
I slow down so I can watch you for a moment before you hear me approaching. There are some moments you want to stretch out. It seems we are fast losing that in this modern age. But there is a lot to be said for a moment enjoyed, unadvertised, unspoken, and simply filling you up inside with appreciation. Filling you up with so much feeling that you might burst. But instead of easing that pressure by telling everyone…you don’t. You keep it close, like a precious stone that radiates light only for you.
This is one of those moments. You…your intense focus…the sun. The smell of earth. The wind, gently running everything under its fingers.
And coming home to you. My life is damn good. If you overlook one or two little things.
The last thought causes me to involuntarily laugh. Maybe it was a snort. Whichever, it gives me away. You look up and smile.
“Hey you. What’s funny?” You turn in the opposite direction to grab at some weeds.
“Nothin’,” I say. “Just wanted to report on your stunning butt-cleavage.”
“Oh, damn you.” You laugh, and stop weeding just long enough to hitch up your pants. “I bet you say that to all the sweaty gardeners.”
“It’s true,” I sigh with mock regret. “I’ll admit I told Mauricio something very similar yesterday.”
We both laugh. Mauricio is a mutual friend, and I had said nothing of the sort to him.
“Some people visit bars or do the online dating thing. You…you gotta be different, and haunt gardens looking for a hookup.”
“What can I say?” I shrug, hands up. “Something about planting, picking, and weeding turns me on.”
“Is that why you have a handful of chives?” you ask, noticing the flowers. “Is that how your species propagates?”
I want to laugh, but the crestfallen feeling has suddenly lunged up from my belly and is cramming my throat full of ache.
“I thought you’d like these…” I mumble, remembering how I thought of you as soon as I saw the tiny flowers bobbing on the warm breeze. “Because of the color and all.”
You look closer at the flowers.
“Green is not my color, silly. That’s yours. I like hot colors. Reds and oranges. You know that!”
“Yeah,” I say, softly. “I do.”
I look down to the flowers in my hand. They are already becoming chives. I lift them to my nose and sniff. It is a smell I have loved since I was a boy…it meant the grass had just been mowed, in the process shaving down many of the wild chives that grew in our lawn. An earthy, sharp, compelling scent. To me, that is. You hate onions and anything related to them.
“Well, I guess I’ll go wash and save these for…some soup or something,” I say.
“Okay,” you say, hardly hearing me. You move on to the herb patch, on the other side of the front walk. You are, again, wrapped up in tending your plants. I stand for a moment, watching you. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Finding myself stealing glances, soaking up long looks at you. As if trying to file away everything important before it’s too late. Every day, something else disappears.
As I walk past you, I gently touch your shoulder. You jerk away, reflexively.
“Don’t touch me with those stinky hands,” you say.
“Right,” I whisper. “The chives.”