I decided to try something different today. I was initially inspired by this beautiful article written by one of my heroes. I wanted to write about the idea that it’s better to be a real flower and be beautiful as a part of a living plant- something that smells sweet, is of service to nature, with medicinal value, something that absorbs carbon while emitting oxygen, is regenerative; than a fake flower that is of no value other than beauty, which inevitably fades. I also read the Lorax to my little girl last night (which always brings a tear to my eye), so that was definitely an influence as well. My husband says it reads like a children’s story, which is ok with me. I love the rich metaphors in the storytelling of Women Who Run With Wolves, so much so that I wanted to try my hand at it as well. I hope you enjoy it.
The House with the Orchard Lawn
There was once a house on a quiet little street in middle America. It was a safe street where American flags hung like dewdrops in the sun, and each house was lined up so perfectly just like square monopoly houses. One little house on the street had the most beautiful array of flowers from around the world in their yard. There were sunflowers, lilies, daffodils, tulips and million bells. It was an anomaly how they got all those many flowers looking so beautiful all the time. The house also had the most perfect lawn. It was emerald green year round and no weeds ever snuck their head up, no patches of clover sprawled across it.
The house next door, though it was the same exact model of house, built at the same time with the same materials, didn’t look quite so nice. The yard was just dirt- not even rich chocolaty earth but the gritty, rocky, dry, tan mud- the sunburnt skin of the earth. Weeds crept up along all the cracks in the ground by the sidewalk and driveway. They were tall, skinny, awkward looking weeds with no colorful flowers, and only grew bigger and more gruesome looking over time. The neighbors knew an old man lived there, but that he suffered from a disease that made him feeble and sensitive to sunlight. One day, his niece moved in. The neighbors breathed a sigh of relief because finally, someone was going to deal with the climbing vines and spiky blackberry bushes that were reaching their way rudely across the border to their immaculate yard. But the girl didn’t do anything about it. She just let the front yard become wilder and wilder. Glaring at her as she got out of her car did nothing. The neighbors grew exasperated that the insane, out of yard was not being kept under control. They were about to march over with the president of the neighborhood committee when they saw her come out of her house with gardening gloves and a shovel. They bickered with one another as they saw her dig holes and build a maze of pvc pipe all around the yard. They were agitated because the yard was still ugly, but at the same time very curious because they didn’t know what she was up to over there.
After several months there were small sprouts. The girl came out to pull weeds, and to apply a woody mulch around them. She covered them in winter, and pruned once a year. They submitted to the fact that the yard next door would always be ugly, and did their best not to look at it. At the very least it gave them something to complain about. They enjoyed bickering about their speculations over what on earth she was doing. Over the next few years the sprouts had grown into trees. There were all kinds of trees; apple, peach, pear, plum, cherry. Birds chirped happily from their nests built of twigs and mud in the springtime. The bees whizzed all over, making quick pit stops at the delicate blossoms. The palette of trees spanned the scope of the rainbow- there were all shades of green from grasshopper to deep emerald, to dark fir. There were yellows and purples and the brightest reds and oranges you ever saw would glow under the brewing grey skies in the fall.
Then the trees began to bear fruit! The fruit would grow so heavy and fat that the girl would catch them in baskets and go around the block offering them to anyone that was sitting on their porch or mowing their lawn dozens of the glistening fruits. Of course everyone accepted her gift, breathing the fresh fragrance deeply as they ushered the bounty in through the front door. Never had anyone tasted anything sweeter than the fruit from the orchard growing on their neighbor’s lawn. Over the years, the next door neighbors grew older and so did their perfect lawn and the perfect flowers that never lost their petals. Their vivid colors began to fade, and muddy pools of stagnant water gathered in the middle of the dull green grass. When people walked by, they smiled and pointed at the house with the orchard lawn, but their faces fell and they averted their gaze when their eyes fell upon the house with the astroturf and the old silk flowers.