Winter has returned, bright and bone-cold after an absence of three or four weeks; and I’m against it.
Silly, silly me. All it took was a 50 degree temperature swing to give me hope. I’ve been here all my life, and I should have known better.
February can be such a tease.
But it’s gotten me thinking about Spring.
And that has gotten me thinking about the alley.
Why doesn’t the alley want to be beautiful? Why has the universe conspired to leave my alley weedy and sad?
The first year was foolishness, of course. Tulips? Bad idea. Even with the soil I added, the tulips never thrived. An enormous number of weeds did very well, however, including an insidious vine (are there any other kinds?) that came in mid-summer and eventually formed its own system of government. Needless to say, it took over entirely.
That was, of course, pure negligence on my part. Graduation party or weeding? Wedding or weeding? Sit with my eyes closed and the sun on my face in my backyard or weeding? Summer has many distractions, and they are all more fun than weeding.
But still, the alley bothered me: a 2 feet by 20 foot strip of land, the home of mysterious little vodka bottles and, sometimes, socks.
Who discards socks in an alley?
So two years ago I added a number of plants. Every Thursday, I bought a new plant from the Farmers Market, brought it home on the bus, trotted it into the alley, put it in the ground. It was going to be different this time: some lovely perennials picked specifically for their toughness and soil requirements. I must’ve had nine plants back there the day I wandered out back, watering can in hand, to discover nine holes in the ground.
No plants. Holes.
They’d all been dug up.
My mouth fell open with astonishment, and I stood, motionless, for quite some time, trying to comprehend what I was seeing.
I hadn’t been back there to water for three days. They came to my house in that time and dug up my plants.
Someone came along and dug them up.
I considered a world in which people came to your yard and dug up your plants.
And the more I thought about it, the angrier I became.
Steal my plants? Steal my plants?
Who steals plants?
I looked around. Where were they coming from that they were in my alley?
There’s a tiny gas station/convenience store six houses down. They saw my plants because they were walking to the store. They went home and they got a shovel. They came back. They took my plants to their house.
I looked down the alley, away from the store. They live down there.
I grabbed a shovel and a cardboard box and started walking.
I had gone three blocks when I started coming to my senses. Who am I, Dog “The Bounty Hunter” Chapman? This is crazy. I’m going to take a right when I get to the end of this block and walk down my street back to the house.
And there, a block later, on my very own street, were my plants. Up there, in front of a house just three blocks from my own. From the sidewalk, I went up into the yard. Nine mostly-dead plants, wilted and withered. They didn’t appear to have even been watered.
I went up to the front door and knocked, loudly. Nothing. I knocked again, loudly. More nothing.
I looked around. No one.
I dug them up. I dug them up and I took them home, where I replanted them – inside the backyard.
Steal from me, will you?!
A Meeting in the Meeting
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