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August Break 11 and 12 – Secret Green Garden


(I’m combining the “green” prompt and the “secret” prompt into one thing so there)

There used to be a little house here, where I wait for the bus in the morning. It was a little historic townhouse, with a little porch, a tiny yard, and even a tiny back yard, butting up on the corner just under the BQE.  Unfortunately, though, it was owned by a man who was having a lot of trouble staying on top of the upkeep; the porch was sagging and haphazardly propped up by bare boards, there was lumber piled on the front lawn, the back yard was choked with weeds and the facade was covered with mismatched shingles.  I regularly saw pink sanitation citations taped to his door, citing him for the rubbish in the yard.

I was torn between resentment and sympathy whenever I saw the place. Not resentment over property values or anything – it was more like, “hmpf, if had that house I’d do a better job of taking care of it.  Someone should just, like, give it to me.” But one time I saw the owner talking to another neighbor – someone who was volunteering to help him clean up the rubbish once – and he was an older, frail-looking man, dressed in high-waisted slacks with suspenders and a hat. Clearly he was overwhelmed by the responsibility of taking care of the house and was doing the best he could, and he didn’t want to sell, but the house was too far gone and he didn’t know what to do. And that’s where the sympathy came from.

Finally, last fall the city declared the house condemned and tore it down.  I sadly watched them working over the course of two weeks, and they carried off any pipe dreams I had of buying the place with a lottery jackpot and left an empty lot, the house’s footprint paved over by plain gravel.  The yard, which had been covered up with junk and lumber for so long, was just a patch of bare earth speckled here and there with straggly grass; the whole thing got covered over with snow in the winter.

And then came spring.

The grass ran wild, unfettered by either wood or mower, and some of the wildflowers that had been lurking also took root.  Ivy started trailing up the chain-link fence around the lot. Over the course of the spring and into the summer, the grass grew taller and the weed revealed themselves to be wildflowers; bachelors’ buttons, Queen Anne’s lace, even thistles. And just this month, a few of the zinnias my neighbor had tried planting long ago popped back up, mixing in with the other flowers.


And so instead of watching a house decay morning to morning, I’m watching a meadow grow.


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