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January 2018, vol 13 no 4

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Glenn G. Coats

Green Fingers

I drop my wife off near the entrance to the garden center. She places her cane inside a shopping cart and uses the cart to keep her balance. I park the car then find Joan studying a pallet of Boston ferns that have been reduced for quick sale, eyeing them from a distance as she can no longer bend down for a close look. “They’ve been in the sun too long,” my wife says. “A little water and shade, cut back the brown fronds, and they’ll be good as new.” Joan picks one to rescue and I place it in the cart.

We move slowly down a row, pause at camellias with white and pink flowers. Joan apologizes to other customers for being in the way. “Nothing to worry about honey,” one of them says. “I stopped being in a hurry—long time ago.”

Joan and I examine bushes and trees that we have planted in the past. Leland Cypress that grew like giants and filled our backyard, a pyramid holly that almost touched a high wire. My wife pinches a stem off a coleus. Leaves are the color of red wine with green along the edges. She’ll take it home, put it in a shot glass of water, give it a few weeks to sprout roots then plant it in a pot of sandy soil.

I wait in the check-out line while Joan begins the journey back to our car. “Did she just have surgery?” the cashier asks. I tell her that it is a progressive disease and that my wife has struggled with it for some time. “Bless her heart,” the cashier says. “It looks like every step hurts, and will you look at that, she just keeps right on going. Bless her heart.”

the road home –
where the willow
used to be