8:08 a.m. | 2005-07-04
Let The Quicksand Flow
There's this old man who lives about two blocks from me. Upon discovering a slightly different path to work (not so much discovering as avoiding traffic) I started to notice him more and more.
For the first two weeks as I drove to and from work I would see him outside, his meticulous front lawn slowly being churned up, row by row. He was digging up a pattern, that was obvious, but it was over his entire front lawn (which is rather massive). He's old and tired and I could tell he liked to get up early but got bored by 11. Over this time his front lawn was finished, a whole 8 rows of trench like holes that covered his lawn going perpendicular to the street.
It stayed that way for about 4 days and I got nervous as I didn't see him out in his lawn chair or slowly digging with his shovel. The next thing you know, though, there were close to a hundred potted roses in his driveway. Again, but less slowly this time, he planted each and every one of the rose bushes about 3 feet apart in this new "garden" he'd created.
The way he had dug his lawn used up all but the walkway space to the front door and while there was grass still in between the roses, it wasn't enough to walk through and was most definitely more about show than anything.
The place where he lives...given when the houses were built...tells me that he and his wife bought it to grow old in. I'm almost positive that she's passed and he's left in this house. Alone. I think that's why he made this garden, and why he spends hours tending it. I think it's why I see him sitting out at mid day just looking at it.
It stayed that way for about a week, roses being watered, him wandering around and tending them every single time I passed. But then something amazing happened. I was driving home one night and I saw a flicker of light go on as I turned the corner. He had placed those lightly glowing sidewalk lights in between each and every rose. So that they made a nice even line with the roses, and better, made diagonal lines when it was dark and all you could see was those lights.
I smiled at his decoration, his front lawn covered and sighed.
At first I mourned the loss of the lawn. I love lawn care and I love a well groomed lawn and it made me sad to think that this one was lost forever to roses. But then it hit me. I've never seen grandchildren. I've never seen children. I've never seen anyone but him. And he obviously has no need for a large green lawn. To me it was a big step, a sacrifice, to give up your lawn like that but I think that it made him happy. That's comforting.
I haven't seen him in a few days since he's completed his masterpiece but I think I'll look forward to driving by his house daily and checking in.