Thursday, October 14, 2010
I was down on my knees sorting damp leaves from the flower beds which surround my patio, pruning plants, feeling the earth tumble between my fingers. Deep in reverie, I heard a small voice say, "Whad ya doin’?" It was Ben, my neighbour’s three year old son, his little feet perched between the rungs of my wrought-iron gate. His mother, sitting with the baby on the gentle hill which overlooks our condo, waved down at us.
"What ya doin’?", Ben asked again. After each answer, he repeated his question. Little by little, I shared my passion for the garden. I told him about savouring the last flowers and cleaning-up for winter. He has such knowing eyes ... wise and penetrating. We are becoming friends, he and I.
He showed me his child-sized wheelbarrow which was filled with rocks and pinecones, small trucks, and an assortment of leaves and twigs. "Do you have any wooms in there?" he asked, pronouncing "worm" to rhyme with "room" after the manner of Inspector Clouseau.
Soon, Ben had joined me on the patio, his little hands patting the earth next to mine, the occasional small treasure joining the rest in the wheelbarrow. He sang as he worked, lyrics of his own creation which seemed to circle the words, "no" and "nah". However, the melody was the clearest kind of "yes".
"I hope he’s not bothering you?", said his mother, standing by the gate. "No, not at all", I said. "He’s lovely".
We smiled at each other, as Ben looked at me with candid eyes. "Have you gots any juice?", he asked, hopefully, unceremoniously. "Oh Ben!", said his Mum. "It’s okay", I said, laughing. "Would you like some juice ... or coffee?"
And juice it was. And two cups of steaming coffee. We drank it side by side at the patio table, leaves twirling about us. One fifty-three year old Nana, one thirty-something woman with gorgeous russet hair wearing a darling, fat, dimpled baby on her chest, and one small boy with dirt on his face and a song in his soul.