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Possumhaw: Behind the scenes

 

Shannon Bardwell

 

I mentioned to Dewitt Hicks how lovely the gardens at his home, Rosewood Manor, look when I cut through on Seventh Street North. "But I never see anyone working in the gardens?"  

 

"Thank you, I work all night long," he said. 

 

I think he was pulling my leg, but it's certain someone is working behind the scenes. 

 

Sweeping my porch, I got to thinking about how much work is done that no one notices, like sweeping the porch. Leaving the pile of potting soil spilt from repotting the schefflera, someone would notice, but sweeping the porch, no one will notice. I just started thinking about things like that. 

 

I think about it while sitting at the light in downtown Columbus. Those gigantic pots filled to overflowing sit right smack dab in the hot sun. Who keeps them watered and beautiful? Why don't they dry up and wilt like my potted plants that I water twice a day? Rarely do I see anyone working on them; someone is working behind the scenes. 

 

Zipping down Seventh Street and around the corner, I stopped by Smith's Landscaping where workers hovered over flowers like bees. There was Kathy McCoy snipping the Knock Out roses. I never considered the care it takes to keep the garden center flowers looking as perfect as they do. I wondered why mine at home never looked that pristine. 

 

And so it was I spent the day repotting, pruning, watering and grouping plants all over the yard -- all the while thinking, no one will notice. Will anyone notice that as the clay pot got heavier and heavier I've slipped plastic pots inside the clay ones? Will they notice that I chopped the red clay dirt with a hoe trying to get something to grow? Will they notice that the ajuga spreading wildly in the backyard is now in the front yard?  

 

All while I worked I knew Sam would ask, "What'd you do today?" 

 

"Well, I snipped and repotted the schefflera," I'll say. 

 

I'll tell him that the leaves were sticky and made a mess. Sam will say, "Google sticky leaves on schefflera," but I'll prefer to wonder awhile. 

 

Sam returned from his day of fishing. Out came a cooler full of fish. "Caught the limit again," he said. "There were five boats out there before me." 

 

"How could that be? You left at daybreak." 

 

"Oh, they were just minutes ahead. They were bass fishing." 

 

I wasn't worried because he came home with a good 60 filets, good groceries, something to show for this work. I noticed. 

 

Sam cleaned the fish, and I watched. He held up each crappie and told where he was, how it was, and I said, "That's a nice one alright." 

 

"One goggle-eye," he said. He pointed out the tail and dorsal fin tipped in red. He opened its mouth, "See, it's bigger than a regular bream. It's one of the prettier fish." 

 

"I repotted the schefflera," I told him. "And I googled 'sticky schefflera.' It's got aphids."

 

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.

 

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