Monday, July 19, 2010

The Sign in the Old Well

Sorry if my title sounds like a Nancy Drew book. Maybe that's why I like it . . . Nancy was my constant companion when I was little, and when Gillian was in first grade her teacher would let her read Nancy Drew books at the back of the classroom while the rest of the class had their first reading lessons.

I wrote the following in 2004:

For the past three years—more than three years, actually—I hadn’t the heart to do any gardening. Gardening was such a shared activity in our family. Even if all hands didn’t pitch in, there was a shared spirit, a mutual appreciation for the blue blaze of a delphinium in the sun, or a bowl mounded high with tiny perfect yellow crookneck squash. Joe taught me how to grow a garden, and Jill and I put our heads together over the seed catalogs every year. Then I was the one left to do everything, and for a long time I did nothing.

Jill loved that I planted our old well with flowers every spring. The well is a round opening about two feet in diameter, surrounded by a slab of rock. Filled with flowers, it was always a bright spot under the Winesap apple tree in front of the porch. When I stopped planting it, weeds took over quickly. It depressed me to look at it, but there it was, in sight whenever I left the house, and when I came back.

Last year a plant I recognized sprung up at the far edge of the slab. It came literally out of nowhere, as I hadn’t planted one like it in more than a dozen years, and never in that area. I mowed around the single plant, and it grew and bloomed. At the end of the season it fell over onto the well, seeding it. This spring, the well was transformed. Gone were all the weeds. In their place was a profusion of blue and white flowers: forget-me-nots. They were so clearly from Jill. She would never have to ask me not to forget her. Instead, I think she was saying, Don’t forget the joy we once took in this. You can still love growing things. We can still love them together.


In the six years since I wrote the above, the forget-me-nots have proliferated, showing up all over the property. I took this picture of the well last month. One of my favorite sights a couple of years ago was about 100 feet down the road, where a ring of forget-me-nots encircled a sweet-rocket plant.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Susan, that really tugged at my heart strings. I can't imagine the pain of losing Jill and the joy of knowing she is still with you and all around you. Thanks for sharing that story.

Linda Howard

Dona said...

Thank you for sharing that photo, Susan -- and the story.

Susan said...

Thanks, Linda and Dona. And Linda, nice to see you here.

Bridgett said...

Susan, that is beautiful and heartbreaking.

Indigo Bunting said...

Visually and emotionally beautiful!

Helen said...

It does sound like a Nancy Drew book! She was my constant companion too when I was young.

Your signs are gorgeous.

Sabine said...

A beautiful picture. And a beautiful story to go with it.

crystal said...

We can still love them together

I like that idea. Beautiful flowers.

I read Nancy Drew too :)

Eulalia Benejam Cobb said...

So sad, and yet so beautiful.

Limited said...

I LOVED this story. It tugged at my heart strings too.

Susan said...

Thanks, Vicki. I love your comments (here and elsewhere).