My Daily Hero

His helmet bears a row of short spikes menacing from front to back, right down the middle.

Released from his domicile every evening after supper, he rides. Always on the sidewalk. Someone must tell him to stay there, place parameters of safety on his pedal-pushed freedom. Nevertheless, eyes straight ahead, he goes.

I wonder where he imagines himself. Off into the Jurassic jungle. Rushing to a clash of Vikings. Destined to an encounter with Dragons. Is he always flying solo? Or does his wheeled escape speed him into the company of other valiant protectors of decency?

I hope he has no idea that this old woman, nor any other, watches. Known gazes tether, pull such a child off course into response. I want for him to answer only to himself, to make impeccable use of the discharge granted him each evening after supper on his brisk steed, in his clean clothes, his ferocious helmet.

Odocoileus hemionus

The monsters are lurking. I saw them once this winter, sleeping off some twiggy meal in someone else’s see-through back yard, Odocoileus hemionus, 200 pound rats aka mule deer.

A pair of does took a dining tour of my front yard this morning. They then proceeded quite casually into the shrub bed in the back yard, where I saw them and ran in my best banshee imitation to chase them away. Willie, standing with his front paws on the bottom of the storm door window, found this remarkably entertaining. He wagged his tail and danced when I dashed back in.

The damage: They ate the greens from the front porch tulips, pulled Cream Beauty crocus out of the ground and spat them out, treated the planter like a feeder and ate the largest of the hens and chicks.

To my devilish delight, the pump sprayer with left over monster repellent, fired right up. Right now, it smells like Hades all around my place. That must be why the brave men in ties and nice shoes just rang my bell to talk to me about what the Bible says about earthquakes in Japan. Seriously.

I declined the pamphlet. The end is always near and glory beckons. I am kind to these folks, because they are some mother’s sons and daughters, people concerned about the future of earth and her inhabitants just like me.

How curious that these two sides of myself, the fury and the grace, should show themselves so closely together. It’s the quizzical motherhood of the unchilded. People often say that my gardens must be like my children, and I suppose it’s true. I will defend them with whatever means I have. People often say that I am kind and patient. One must be patient to garden and the plants seed kindness in our manners. We are all willful children.

I had three hours to spring clean a prominent front bed yesterday. Never mind my perfectionist leanings. This garden is on a budget. I’ve known this bed for some years, knew the parameters and priorities, so I set to. Trains of thought emerge in this physical labor mode.

As I rounded the second half of the bed I got to thinking: It’s probably a good thing I never had children. It means that now, because I had no financial planning, there is no one working and worrying entirely too much about how to pay for college. There is also no one spending hundreds of dollars on therapy to undo the damage from whatever mistakes or neglect I would, no doubt, have committed.

The list of all the things I’m missing has always been too long to allow. Although when one is on one’s knees, tending a garden one has true affection for yet is ultimately someone else’s, the inevitable presents itself. These others’ gardens, belonging as they do to people my age and older, will be inherited by someone who perhaps has no idea what Solomon would say about with whom the garden should stay. Nor will they likely care. It’s a likelihood I accept, while remaining in service and gratitude and honestly open to all outcomes.

There is no one, now, to inherit my garden. If I step off a curb, admiring some butterfly, and smack into a UPS truck, this is just another piece of real estate. There are no grandchildren to pick flowers nor reframe the views through their splendid eyes. Sad, yes, and yet not written in stone. “Joy”, however, is written in a smooth, black stone on my front porch, just above where the deer snacked on tulips. Who knows what family might still be looking for me?

Even the gents with the well-worn King Jameses who rang my bell this morning, though not matches for me, have found their way to my welcoming door.