The Beginning of a Story

Spring came three times that year. I happened like that some years. This far south winter just never got settled in, so the daffodils came and went before january was out and the spireas and quince followed before february was through. Ada didn’t mind at all. When she had moved to this part of the world years before, she’d had enough snow and ice and cold weather to last her the rest of her life. It was the 1st of March and those peas she’d planted new years’ week were just coming into bloom. She’d had a hunch that winter wasn’t really coming this year. Funny how you could just guess that sometimes. She did spend a lot of time outside though. Flowers were easier to manage than folks. She grew flowers for the butterflies to enjoy, and the bees of course. Couldn’t have flowers without the bees. It would be nice to grow them without the fire ants, she reckoned, but that seemed not to be possible either.

Well, she’d watered everything she could, planted a few new things, tied up those floppy old rose canes, and woven the peas back onto their trellis. Nothing much left to do out here but pull weeds. She decided the weeds would ‘do’ for a day. They just wanted to live too, after all. She headed back inside. Lord knows, the inside could use a good cleaning, but Ada didn’t like housework any better than she did weeding. At least on the inside no one could see her not doing it!

“This place is looking like the spider web palace,” she tought. Then she wandered into the bedroom, sat down at the computer and was lost to the world until lunchtime. She had begun to let “social media” fill more of her need for company these last few years. Not that she didn’t have friends, but they had husbands and regular jobs. Internet meant that there was always someone around when she was ready to see them and she didn’t have to get dressed or clean house over it. Since it was already friday Ada decided she’d better mow the yard. Tuesday would be here before you knew it. Ada’s job involved leaving home for a week at a time to take care of some old folks. She then got a week off. It meant that anything that didn’t get done during her “home week” was going to have to wait awhile and the grass was fast passing the waiting stage. So, she checked her sugar, diabetes was a pain, and made a fast sandwich.

She was still licking the last of the sandwich crumbs off her fingers as she advanced on her antiquated mower. Lately getting that thing to start and run was more work that it would be to cut the entire yard with nail clippers.  She was kind of sneaking up on it, hoping that it wouldn’t notice her in time to act cussed. Stealthily turning the gas lever she suddenly leapt into the seat, stomping the clutch to the floor, slapping the choke down and turning the key in as close to one motion as she could manage. The mower coughed, then sputtered. Frantically she began shoving the throttle toward ‘rabbit’, while slooooowly dragging back the choke. The sputtering evened into a sustained roar. She sighed as she leaned back. That process always took the starch out of her. Easing the machine into gear and dropping the blade she grimaced as she felt the wetness from the foam of the seat seep through the hole in the plastic cover and into her pants. It was always something.

She cut the back and started through the side yard. Hmmmm, too wet to cut here, she thought as she headed to the front. During the few minutes spent cutting the front yard (not much grass grew there) she contemplated what to do. That thick St. Augustine grass in the side yard would be at least another 30 minutes or an hour drying. Yet if she cut off the mower she had to go through the whole ridiculous starting procedure again. “Aha!” she thought, “I will cut the woods to fill the time. It’s getting hot out here in the sun anyway.” As she slipped the mower through the gap in the trees that led to the glade that held a picnic area, she thought about its creation. She had found the open space in the woods not long after moving into the house. When she realized that it was almost perfectly concealed from the house and both roads, the appeal of the ‘secret garden’ became overwhelming. She borrowed a small chain saw and cut down 3 weedy willows to give it a bit more space and she cleaned up the deadfalls that surrounded the glade. Burning all that wood began the fire pit. A picnic table was added one day when she ran across a glass table and 6 chairs on clearance. The umbrella she’d won in a raffle years before. It was a lovely place to sit and a nice place for a party. It had to be cut periodically however to keep the poison ivy down. Lowering the blades she began happily cutting, keeping one eye out to dodge spider webs. Huge banana spiders lived in the woods, spinning their giant webs, and while she had nothing against them personally, an encounter with a banana spider web could cause one to injure themselves as they jumped from the mower to run screaming into the house and the sanctuary of the shower. So it was awhile before she noticed that someone had been back here.


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