Monday, August 25, 2008

The Lady Whose Name I Don't Know

Every evening, she would walk up the hill where my house is built.

It's not an easy hill, a good 6% grade, one that starts out slow, lulling you into a feeling it will be a snap, when you feel your muscles start to pull, and your breath comes harder... by the time you reach my house, at the top of the hill, you are wishing you'd purchased a dwelling no further than mid point.

Every evening, she would walk up the hill where my house is built.

She's at least 85, straight back, white hair so fine even a slight breeze will set it in motion on her head. She wears slacks with an almost defiant look, this woman raised when only that maverick, Katherine Hepburn, wore slacks. She is thin, tiny, cotton shirts in the summer, a heavier coat in the wintertime. I noticed my last summer, she had someone walking behind her...not with her, not next to her.. behind her. She would bear no person's help.

She works in her small flower garden, pulling the weeds with a hard yank. She wears a large straw hat in the garden, and little gloves with flowers on them. I tried not to wheeze as I walked past her on my way up the hill. If she could do it, so could I.

In winter, she is outside with a broom, slowly sweeping off the dry champagne powder we call snow from her sidewalks. Steady, strong movements keep the stuff swirling around her, her progress marked by the appearance of the bare pavement behind her. On occasion, with big snows, I've walked down the three houses with my shovel, moving the stuff from the larger driveway.

We never exchange a word as she sweeps and I shovel, clearing it all away. She has on a pink knitted hat, leather gloves and a heavy sweater, no matter the air temperature. I have the drive finished by the time she has her front walk swept, she still doesn't make a sound, or smile... a brief nod is given, and she goes back inside. We've never exchanged names; her granddaughter said she is quite deaf.

I imagine it's immaculate there, inside her home. Everything placed just so, her TV is somewhat modern because her granddaughter lived there when she went to the University. Small dinners, I'd bet, served in the kitchen, while she eats and listens to the radio news turned up high.

She doesn't abide fools or Democrats or tomato worms, I reckon.

When I was gone, I wondered how she was, if she was still about, sweeping, gardening, walking. I've not seen her in the time I've been back, either.

Yesterday, there she was... stick straight back, sturdy shoes, walking up the hill in front of my house, grasping my iron fence only once.... someone who looked to be her son panting behind her. She glanced over in my garden, still somewhat barren from it's near death experience....but, slowly greening again... saw me sitting there, and nodded. I nodded back, set my sprinkler, and came inside.

And danced about, Sophie scampering out of my way, giving thanks that she was still here.


Solomon said...

Every time I read your blog, it's like a dose of crack. Every single word placed just so, to create the picture in my head.


Peter Varvel said...

Absolutely Lovely post.
This makes me dance, too, that she is still there.

vinny said...

Those little joys - things - gems - whatever you call it, in life.

When it really has nothing to do with you, originally.

Quin Browne said...

solomon~what every writer wants to hear... thank you.

peter~i want to BE her one day

vinny~exactly... i am working on the zen art of 'place of non-attachment'. to understand- it's not all about me.

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

"...the dry champagne powder we call snow" was an awesome phrase. I read it a couple times because I liked it so much.