By Gloria Bares

When I was young,

I loved gardening days with my Dad.

I’d see him,

clippers, snippers and spade in hand.

walking toward our backyard,

his garden,

his second home.

I remember his six foot two inch frame,

curled over the flower beds of

zinnias, daisies, geraniums.

Nasturtiums–orange, red-orange and yellow–

spilled lazily over the borders.

His large gloveless hands colored by dirt and soil–

dark sienna brown, buff, and walnut-shell beige–

patterned his palm like a damask cloth.

Dad knew each plant,

tended each leaf,

admired each bursting bud.  He

snipped away those whose turn it was to be old.

Often he stopped, smiled, pointed out the beauty in a blooming flower

or in our shiny Victory Garden vegetables –tomatoes, zucchini, carrots–

maturing quickly in the summer sun.

I cradled each warm harvest in my arms and inhaled its earthy, fresh aroma.

Dad deftly shaped with his clippers.

First, the bulky avocado tree,

as greenish-brown as an alligator,

and so tall I couldn’t see the top.

Then he tidied the wild border of oleanders,

neatened the prolific sky-blue morning glory vine, and

sculpted Mother’s lilac bush whose fragrance perfumed the whole yard.

Lastly he stood tall, used his spade and loosened cramped roots of camellias and azaleas.

All livings things, he told me, need breathing room, just like people.

Whiffs of dank, moist soil wafted in the air.  My nose twitched.

While he worked, he hummed as indiscernibly as the soft purr of a contented cat.

I felt his peace.

Today, decades past these days of youthful memories,

I pick up my clippers, snippers, spade

and walk toward my backyard,

my garden,

my second home.

© Copyright Gloria Bares 2018

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Gloria Bares was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1932. Gloria says, “My childhood days were influenced by my patient father, and his love of plants. He was content among the many growing things in his backyard. Surrounded by the tranquility of nature, he was alone to be himself.  No pressure to converse. No expectations dictating his time schedule. Sometimes I would find him in the garden in a drizzle or before our all female family was awake. Early in my life he showed me where to find peace.”