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For ten years our little patch of land has been a piece of red clay that bakes hard in the sun.
That cracks under footsteps. That can’t hold most tender roots while they probe deep and wide for their source.
Don Defenbach would laugh to himself when he saw me toil in the dirt and creep to the fence, a wandering hollyhock.
He told me of the nature of the soil, the decades of sun up sun down work, put in between him and Faye. They built their house, they laid every brick.
” …laid every brick.” They knew every neighbor and watched them grow. Watched our house be built too, they hauled every stone for both our houses.
“One truckload at a time. From a boulder blocking the road at Keystone Lake.”
He busted down with a five pound sledge. One truck load at a time. Theirs used to be a house like ours.
“All of this section belonged to Kay and Larry’s family. They built your house for their mother. The woods still belong to them.”
Larry walks the woods night and day, Larry believes we are not alone in the universe.
“The soil is hard here and we worked it hard every day, every year.” Don’s voice was quiet you had to stand close to the fence to hear.
His Hollyhock back was knotted and bent, heavy with his yield. Don stepped carefully; slowly he moved the earth.
“Ours used to be a little shack like yours. We built all of this ourselves. Me and Faye. The house took one year, after we saved the money. We lived in a camper while we worked. With our own hands we built all of this, with our eyes we watched it grow.”
Sun up sun down.
When they were gone their house was flooded by a sea of daffodil, snotwart, iris, peonies, poppies, roses, hollyhock, yucca, indian paint brush, and baby’s breath.
You could smell the sage all summer. The beauty of their legacy, a garden returning to nature.