It was during our days of hunger when I walked, solo, past Victor. “I heard about your dog,” he said. “I loved that guy. I’m sorry.” He and his wife were planting more stuff in their front yard.
They were always doing something in that yard.
They lived on the busy part of the hill. During the hot days, tourists came from the city and parked on our mountain and then walked down to the ecole de voile. I will admit that that was a great way to meet everyone, unless you had a dog. Talking to the neighbors required initiative and an excuse.
“We loved the rhubarb,” I lied to him.
The Director had loved it. I made her a berry crumble using rhubard they’d pulled for me. The Director sang the whole day, “I’ll crumble for you. I’ll crumble for you. I’ll crumble FOR YOU,” in her best boy George imitation.
Victor pointed to some herbs and marigolds and other stuff. I brightened at the chives. “How hard is it to grow those?” I asked. My stomach tightened.
“Not hard,” he said and dug out a bundle of chives, and handed them to me. “Now you have a head start. Plant them in some dirt and you’re done.”
For years, I talked of planting a garden but didn’t have the energy to fight both the Director and my own inertia. The Director was always worrying about bears. This year I felt more determined than I had in a long time. Especially when the new guy on the hill had made another generous gesture to me.
The Director yelled when I returned from my walk, “Oh no, not again.”
I put the stalks down on the glass table on the front balcony.
“You’ve still got seeds and those berries you said you’d plant from last year. It’ll attract animals. The birds!”
Seeds were like letters in the mail to me. I didn’t have the patience and still I yearned.
The ornate plastic planters in front of the balcony called to me. You could tell there was a thought to their placement and purpose in the yard, but could also see that the thought had not been fully realized. They held a couple dandelions and some plant detritus from last year.
I walked downstairs, scooped out clods of clover and jammed the chives down, and covered them with the clods.
“For our salad days,” I muttered beneath the rumble.