Mason recently told me he wanted to rip out Mr. Pine’s stump. I wasn’t happy. Granted, stumps aren’t exactly attractive, but we’re not talking about just any stump. After a few days of negotiations, we settled on building a memorial instead.
A dry creek runs through our backyard, and fossils litter the bed. When I had first found them, I took some to a geology professor at Vanderbilt. He told me they are relics from when the ocean covered Tennessee, which means they are about four billion years old.
Now, fifty-plus of these ancient rocks circle Mr. Pine. Inside the circle we spread cedar mulch and planted a hydrangea, a red fuchsia, and two snowball bushes. We put them on opposite sides but straight across from each other like points of a compass. In a few years, their flowering branches will completely shade him but for this year I added six dahlias.
Inspired, I planted eight more dahlias in front of the house. Dahlias are such drama queens. Even after two days of soaking rain, they drooped on the first hot afternoon. I also sowed seventeen sunflower seeds along our fence line. Fifteen are two inches tall already. Adriana likes to help me water them, trotting at my heels back and forth from the fence to the hose. Unlike dahlias, sunflowers are troopers. They handled the recent cold temperatures and thunderstorms without a single complaint.
Every other spring before this one, I was working and working so much that it was a survival-of-the-fittest game in my garden. Let’s just say any plants who survived had to possess a strong independent streak. This spring is totally different. I already had the opportunity to observe every stage of our pear trees’ metamorphosis from pale pink to lime green. And I watched our dogwoods bloom so white they looked luminescent at first light.
Now, I’ll have the time to nurture my garden too. When I’m searching for silver linings during this pandemic, gardening is high on the list. This year I can feed and prune my garden weekly, water it daily, cover it when it’s cold, and protect it from pests.
This year I can watch Mr. Pine’s memorial grow and grow and grow.