About a year ago, right about the time the late Daddykins went to heaven, Enrique, my favorite gardener, vanished from my life into his family ranch in Guadalajara. I missed his gold tooth, his sweat-stained face and the way he sucked in his breath at the tenuous moment before he gave me his invoice.
In place of Enrique, another genial landscaping soul turned up at my door last summer. Like his predecessor, Julio too was always smiling, like the sunflower in December. In mid-July I was livid when Julio absconded one Friday, check in hand, without informing me what he had done with the sunflower seeds I’d given him with detailed instructions to plant them to the right of the front yard alongside the red roses.
Days passed. Weeks rolled by. I forgot to ask. He forgot to tell. But I’ve been tsk-tsking about gardeners who are ready to grab the check and not deliver the goods.
This afternoon, just as I was about to drive off in the van, a two-foot stem caught my eye right by the roses on the left of my front yard. Apparently too heavy for the plant, the stem had cracked and keeled over. An unopened blossom at the tip of the stem lay caressing the lawn. There it was: A sunflower, ready to bare itself and beam at the sun in just about a day.
A few minutes ago, I poured its rays into my vase on the dining table. And, by the way, did I tell you that Julio is just like the sudden sun peeping in through a sullen sky?