March 10, 2014 9:45:43 AM
Over and over again I watched Sam haul heavy bundles of yard cuttings and leaves over to the habitat pile. It touched my heart deep.
Sam wanted to give me something I "needed" for my birthday rather than some bauble I could buy for myself. My birthday list included needing six large bags of potting soil, 50 pounds of birdseed, 11 gardenias pruned, four flowerbeds cleaned out and three patches of dead flower stalks cut down and hauled away, topped off by one large planter to put a tree in. The list sounded like the 12 days of Christmas and would take about as long.
After the first day Sam's knees hurt from all that squatting. Maybe he'll work the soreness out by the time he finishes. He's still working on the gardenias. I suggested he buy an electric hedge trimmer to help out, but he prefers the old-fashioned way, using what my dad called "knuckle-busters."
On Valentine's Day I got a practical gift of heavy-duty garden snippers and a gift certificate for new garden plants. The gifts will be useful as the spring on my old snippers kept popping out and falling on the ground, and that can be fiercely maddening. The gift certificate was to help replace the plants that were lost in the greenhouse due to the persistent frigid temperatures. Sam commiserated with Susan Smith at Smith's Landscaping about greenhouse losses, as no one in the sunny South could be quite prepared for night after night of single-digit cold weather.
The month of March's birthday flower is the daffodil. No matter how cold it gets you can count on a spray of daffodils spouting up here and there. I like daffodils on my kitchen windowsill. At 94 years old, Ms. Fannie Gerhart says every day you wake up is a good day, no matter if it's your birthday or not.
Ms. Fannie painted the walls in her living room daffodil yellow, so she has the color of daffodils every day. If a bright and sunny place makes for a bright and sunny disposition like Ms. Fannie's, I shall pack my windowsill with daffodils.
After all that yard work Sam was still willing to take in an MSU baseball game. The Bulldogs won, and that made for more celebration. At the game we met up with Charles and Nell Sciple, my former neighbors from the Sessums community. After the big win we invited them to join us at Newk's for the birthday dinner; their shrimp remoulade is to die for. The restaurant was packed full of maroon and white baseball fans, including Clyde and Janice Hollis and their family at the next table.
The birthday was topped off with Bop's "Amazing Grace" frozen custard. One day Sam may prefer an easier gift on the knees and appetite by giving birthday baubles wrapped in gift bags, but for now this "need" stuff is working out pretty good.
Shannon Rule Bardwell's column appears in Monday's Dispatch. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.