Why My Husband Usually Gets the Mail
“I’m going to get the mail,” I said to my husband one day in July. My largest perennial bed, a 200-foot long sweep, drops steeply from the roadside before it meets the lawn, ending at my rural mailbox.
It was lunchtime, but the flowers called to me with their Siren’s song. I’ll only take a quick peek, I told myself. But as I glanced toward the sweep of nodding flower heads, my experienced eyes spotted the leaves of a small dandelion. I didn’t have it in me to ignore it.
Moving to the edge of the flower bed, I crouched and pressed my thumb and index finger at the base of the weed and shoved them as far onto the warm soil as they would go. After making sure I had a firm grasp on the upper root, I gave a satisfying yank. “That’s what you get for daring to grow in my flowerbed,” I mumbled.
As I scanned for other weeds, I spied the fuzzy, round seed-heads of my burgundy blanket flowers. I did not want seeds. I wanted more flowers. Those seed-producing, spent flowers were using up the plant’s energy that I wanted to go to producing more flowers. Rising from my crouch, I advanced down the bed and pinched the heads off between my thumbnail and forefinger.
When I looked up from my task, a patch of newly blooming purple liatris drew me down the roadside. I gently ran my hand up their cylindrical lengths and felt the feathery purple petals. Beside them, tall, amber yarrow swayed in the breeze. The distinctive, pungent scent of the large, flat blooms drifted in the air, intoxicating my senses further.
I leaped onto a rock placed inside the flowerbed for just this purpose. Misjudging the momentum generated by the downward slope, I wildly flailed my arms to keep my balance.
I was aiming for a patch of newly opened bee balm. When I gained my footing, I buried my nose among the red petals, reminiscent of miniature fireworks bursting into the air, closed my eyes, and smelled the spicy, sweet aroma. I gently squeezed one of its hairy leaves and rubbed it between my fingers, pressing its fragrance into my skin to take with me.
As I hopped to another rock, I breathed in the scent on my fingers while trailing my other hand through the lacy foliage of a moonbeam coreopsis. Tiny, yellow star-like flowers covered the plant. They were so bright I paused to ponder its name. With their dazzling yellowness, if I had been in charge when the flower was named, I would have named this variety sun-ray coreopsis.
Another giant step downhill followed by a jump brought me onto the lawn, and as I continued down the bed, I vigorously rubbed across a thick carpet of lemon thyme near my feet. Its tiny purple blooms were almost finished for the season, but its scent always remained. I sniffed my hand and smiled. My mouth watered—sugary lemon drops mingled with a hint of bee balm.
I made my way down the length of the bed, going up a set of railroad tie steps in the process of being encased by creeping thyme in the middle, and down another set of stone steps toward the end. In between, I sprang from rock to rock. During my wanderings, I tested the sharpness of the spiked tips on dusky blue globe thistles, and stroked the velvet, furry leaves of silvery lamb’s ear. I added the aroma of lavender to my hands, being careful not to disturb the noisy bees, and deadheaded some daylilies. I pulled any weed seedling I saw.
After reaching the end of the flowerbed I took a moment to gaze down its expansive length and drink in the entire canvas of colors and textures, breathing slowly and deeply. At that moment in time, despite the turmoil on much of this planet, all was well in my world.
I slowly trekked back up the hill to the house, with visions of my garden still cycling through my mind. My husband said something to me as I entered the house, and I looked at him blankly. Although I realized he was speaking, my thoughts were still far away, and what he said was not penetrating.
“What?” I made a grand effort to concentrate on his face and the words that came out of his mouth as he repeated himself.
“Where have you been! And where's the mail?”