Appalachia was in the greening.  That time in early spring when the green leaves on the trees were so slight, so new, so small, that they were more of a green haze than a green bower.

The greening on this April day was superb.  The sky was the blue of a robin’s eggs with air so clear and so clean it was like Thanksgiving crystal before the feast.

With the revival of the garden, the greening, came the realization that winter was over.  Happiness flooded Charlotte’s heart.  On her knees, she pulled weeds from around the irises, making room for the hollyhocks to begin their biannual ascent.  “I am blissful,“ she said aloud.  She grinned though there was no one in the garden to see her or hear her.  

After the loss of Brownie, she hadn’t felt bliss for a very long time.  The whole long winter without her dog curled up in bed with her, curled up on the sofa, curled at her feet when she sat at the desk had left her at loose ends.  Today she felt like everything was unfolding as it should.

Help in the garden had always been scarce and truth to tell, she didn’t mind.  It was the place she could hide in plain sight. When she needed a break, time alone, time to think, a time out so to speak, she went to the garden and weeded or picked flowers or deadheaded the dying ones.  It was guaranteed that Bill would leave her alone lest she give him a chore – raking, mulching, mowing.

When she really did need assistance with some chore, she merely had to state the need and her husband of thirty years was good-natured enough to do it. She never had to explain, just, “Bill, I could use a little help” and he was willing.  But without a direct request, she was left alone. 

Groaning just a little, she reached for the canvas bag with her tools, but even with a stretch she couldn’t get to them.  Groaning louder, she got on all fours and dragged the bag over.  There was a tent caterpillar nest in the tree.  The pruning shears were her tool of choice to evict the menace. 

Holding the shears and sitting beneath the old oak, she watched the curtains in the kitchen window waft in the soft breeze. Looking up, she realized the cobwebby mess of the nest was out of her reach even with the long-handled sheers.  She would need Bill.

The day was perfect.  She was happy, blissful.  It was a good life.  She had a good man.  A good dog had loved her, and the garden bore witness to all that was good and joyful in the world. 

Charlotte stood and went looking for Bill.  To ask for his help.  To hug and be hugged. To tell him she loved him.

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