The Heart of the Gardener

(2 April 1994) after Henry Cuyler Bunner

The wife prefers planting annuals, folding into the dirt bulbs of tulips that remind her of her mother’s family and of her childhood, packed off to her grandmother’s for the summer among the Dutch of Holland Michigan. Flowers shelter everywhere in the yard— poppies, flax, daffodils, iris, sweet peas, bright colors for the short sweet season. The husband prefers planting trees, which take care of themselves and last forever, although he doesn’t want to live in a forest. He pulls up oak seedlings to protect them from the squirrels that planted them. They line the window sill in a miscellany of plastic pots above the kitchen sink. He thinks he’ll grow them into intricate bonzai but he likes only to watch them grow— perches and nesting sites for birds, shade, color, form, motions in the wind.