Newly planted seedlings do what they must and begin a journey through a thin layer of soil to reach the outer world. A seemingly impossible task for a thing so small. Soon enough its stem pierces the ground, its leaves unfurl, and the smallest and sturdiest of buds, resplendent and perfect in its shape, prepares for its inevitable bloom. A miracle, its design.
Neither you nor I foretold a late winter snowfall would soon change the character of the dark rich soil that spring, or how many small sprouts would survive the voyage their brief life would come to bear.
I recall you, on your knees, your fingers deep in the dark warm soil, testing the dirt, feeling its moist coarseness in your hands, the bitter taste in your mouth. “Yes, this dirt is good,” you said as you stood, “it’s ready.” And how we planned this small piece of land.
Plum tomatoes, its crawling growth and tangled stems do well in that corner where the late sun warms the afternoons and the cool air lingers in the early morning hours. Basil, oregano, thyme and sage, your favorites, their fragrance, permanent reminders of us, on your fingertips. And for me, flowers, lavender and wisteria, their springly arrival, a coronation. Our rituals, the gardening, the bloom, the ripening, our shared joy. I loved you then beyond measure.
A late winter snowfall heralded that cold April morning, mere days after our newly planted garden lay tender and tenuous in our care. The snow and frost, fragile and magical at once, a suffocating blanket over our roots and buds. How you dug and cupped the snow and frost with your hands, each tender leaf in your frantic hands, gently warmed with your breath. Beside you I worked, our knees touching, and you, impervious, lamented, “I can fix this, I can fix this.” Each tender root you pulled haunted me years after the thaw.
You salvaged what you could. What remained, grew.
That unexpected gentle snow, our stillborn garden, our losses, now a blur.