Her Garden

You are walking down a quiet road in a rural area. You are on vacation in a foreign country, and you’ve taken the day off from your busy sightseeing schedule to enjoy some time in the country.  

You are enjoying the steady crunch of your footsteps on the dirt road when you look up and see an old, stone wall a few metres back from the road coming up on your right. The wall, which has a few climbing vines coming just over the top of the wall from the inside, extends above your head, so you aren’t able to see into the space. In the middle of the wall is a wooden door, and as you draw closer you can see that it is ajar and that it has a worn, hand-painted sign that reads, “Come enjoy her garden.”

Your steps slow as your curiosity gets the better of you, and you pause in front of the door. Why not have a look?

You leave the road and make your way over to the door. You only need to push it a bit more to have enough space to slip inside. You are immediately filled with a sense of peace as you look around the small garden.

The vines that you saw peeping over the wall from the road have completely covered the inside of the wall. Delicate, almost translucent blossoms grow from the vines, bringing a splash of beautiful colour to the light grey stone.

A path of large, flat stones spaced a few centimetres apart leads from the door deeper into the garden, winding around large bushes and small trees. You follow it.

Coming around a hedge, you see the centre of the garden and smile. An broad, metal bird bath has been placed at the heart of the garden. Small figures of birds decorate the edge of the birdbath, and in between them lovely birds drink and splash about in the bowl.

There is a bench near the hedge, and you sit down in the middle of it and lean back as you watch the birds frolicking in the bath. From time to time one of the little creatures flies over to one of several bird feeders scattered about the garden, but they soon return to the shimmering pool of water. 

A small movement catches your eye. You look to the right and see a second bench identical to the one you’re sitting on, occupied by a silent old man. He looks at you and smiles. You smile back. He turns his head and goes back to watching the birds in their bath. You notice that even though he is alone on the small bench he is sitting as far as possible to the right, pressed against the curved armrest. His left arm is stretched out a bit towards the empty space beside him, his hand resting gently on the weathered wood. 

After several minutes, you stand to quietly take your leave. Just before you round the hedge, you take one last look back at the smiling man and his beautiful garden. You also get the sense that even after you leave this place, he won’t be alone. 

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