“There’s the bloody doorbell,” I muttered to myself. “Hell!”
I tapped command S on the keyboard and got up to see who was at the door.
“Hi,” said a young man when I opened it. “Ah, yeah. Hi. I was admiring your garden. Well, really my wife was admiring it… and she asked me to to ask you…what was that tree over there in the corner? The big pink one?”
“Oh,” I said, stepping outside. I was wearing my usual winter writing attire. Worn-out hoodie, faded T-shirt, flannel pajama bottoms and fuzzy slippers. The slippers were a Christmas gift from my wife, who I still believe loves me in spite of the slippers. They are truly hideous, but they are warm and comfy. I like to be warm and comfy when I write, or at least my feet do.
I politely looked to where he was pointing, although I knew without looking which tree he meant. “That’s a Tabebuia tree,” I said.
“A what?” he asked.
“A Tabebuia tree,” I repeated. He doesn’t look like a gardener, I thought to myself. Not that they have a definite look. Anyone can be a gardener. All around the world, anywhere you go, people tend to gardens. From paupers to kings. But he doesn’t seem to fit the mould. He’s in his mid-thirties, wearing a Yankees baseball cap (backwards), closely trimmed beard, sunglasses and sports clothes.
“Let me write it down for you,“ I offered.
“Thanks,” he said. Over his shoulder I saw an Audi parked at the curb, with a large dog half hanging out the passenger window, its attention unwavering from its master in the Yankees cap.
“Sure, no problem,” I replied. “Would you like to see the rest of the garden?”
“Uh, no, not really. I’m late for the links. Golf’s my thing, and I’ve got to drop my dog off at the vet first. Dixie’s her name.”
“Dixie’s your dog’s name?” I asked.
“No,” he answered.
“Dixie’s your vet’s name, then?” I asked.
“No,” he answered.
“Your wife’s?” I wondered.
“Right,” he answered. “She’s into gardening and wondered what that tree was.”
“The vet?” I asked.
“No,” he answered.
“Your dog?” I asked.
“Your wife?” I said.
“Right,” he laughed.
Then I remembered it was Saturday. Probably his day off, and here he was wasting it talking with me. How nice to be a writer, I mused, and work whenever I wanted to, and not work whenever I didn’t want to.
I hardly realize what day it is anymore.
Ha! Ha! Some people have been saying that about me for years!
“Yeah,” I agreed. “My wife too.
“Your wife’s name is Dixie too?” he asked incredulously.
“No!” I laughed. “My wife’s name is Saucy Boy. She’s very proud of her garden and enjoys working in it too, like Dixie does.”
That was true, her nickname is Saucy Boy and she is an avid gardener. Our garden had even won ‘Yard of the Month’ in the neighborhood more than once, and, like today, complete strangers sometimes knocked on the door to ask what was this plant or that shrub in the front yard.
“Your wife’s name is Saucy Boy?” he asked.
“Uh-huh,” I nodded. “She got that name because she’s saucy, not because she’s a boy.”
Yes, I thought, my wife is saucy. And she loves to work in the garden. It’s one of her favorite things to do. She is curious about life and nature, and takes delight in beauty. I like to work in the garden, too. We have a very nice suburban tropical garden, with many palm trees and some interesting bamboos. The private garden in the back is colorful and cozy and contemplative.
Over the years my wife and I together have made our garden what it is, achieving more as a team than we ever could as individuals. Sharing the joy of work and the satisfaction of a job well done. And maybe sometimes, as happens when you’re married, disagreeing about what to plant where or when to water it or even why the heck one bothers trying to get along with you in the first place in this blasted Florida heat and humidity!
“Be right back,” I said. I left him there and went to fetch a pencil and paper.
He turned towards the Audi. “Just be a minute girl!” he called to the dog.
I presume he called to the dog. He’d be pretty stupid if he’d called that out to the car, now wouldn’t he?
“Here ya go,” I said when I returned. I handed him a piece of paper with the name of the tree written on it.
“Well …nice garden,” he said. “Thanks for the info. Dixie’ll love it! See ya.”
We shook hands, then he turned and walked down the path, pausing to glance at the Tabebuia tree.
His dog was happy at his return, excitedly welcoming him into the car.
I watched him start his car and drive it to the end of the cul-de-sac, turn around and drive past the house. I like cars and sometimes watching them is a pleasure. As he passed me he waved his thanks.
I waved back, closed the front door and started towards my office.