Old Man in the Garden


            An old man stoops between rows of vegetables and leans on his hoe.  His is sweating, though the day is cool, and he wipes his forehead before he continues down the row.  He’s promised himself he won’t quit until half the garden is free of weeds.
            He used to be able to chop right through the stubborn crab grass, the occasional bind weed, the tiny trunks of just-sprouted redbud trees, the tenacious profusion of violets with their tiny fists of bulbs.  He never worried about sharpening the blade of his hoe, but now even a sharp hoe is dull in his hands, which hurt, knuckle by knuckle, from finger tips to wrists.  And his back, once stooped, wants to stay bent, resisting his desire to stand erect.  His eyes aren’t what they used to be, and once he examines his work closely, he sees how many weeds he’s missed, how many vegetables he’s destroyed.
            He has unsettled the earth between beets, peas, lettuce, potatoes, arugula.  Then back down among radish, carrot, spinach and chard.  He grunts, nearly finished with the half of his garden, the majority of his life.
            I see this old man in a reflection in the plate-glass dining room window, just across from the garden where I promised myself to spend the morning.  I stop, shocked by the sight.  I stand.  When I lift the hoe to my shoulder, the old man does, too.  Together, we walk to the garage, hang up the hoe, and call it a day.







Seed packet

Hand rake

Garden knee pads


Flash of red paint

Pepper plant


Return to Gardeners

Return to Garden Plots Map