It's Fall. Something a little different today...
We were riding bikes with The Boy the other day. It's a nice neighborhood where everybody on the block literally knows everyone else on the block. There's a house on the corner that's Charlie's house. The Boy usually rides in his driveway before coming back out to the road to meet us. He never used to ride on his lawn though. Charlie was meticulous with his lawn.
I remember when he would occasionally get his picture in the local newspaper posing in front of his garden. He had A yard full of tulips of every hue imaginable. The only thing grander than those tulips was the smile he would show for the photographer. He was one of those people who could plan his garden so that something was in bloom every single week. As fast as one flower would fade, another would take it's place with no trace of a wilted flower anywhere.
If the wind was blowing in the right direction, you could catch the faint scent of the flowers from our back porch. This usually led to a walk or a bike ride past Charlie's place so we could see what had popped up in his garden.
He had a few friends that would stop over just about every evening. They had a swing at the far end of a lawn the color of green that would make golf courses shake with envy. They would always wave and call our son over. I used to tread lightly when we walked across the lawn to visit, but Charlie never cared. The only thing he enjoyed more than his gardening were the kids in the neighborhood.
Charlie slowed down and the leaves out front became a problem for him during the fall. Offers for help from neighbors went unheeded while his would catch his breath on the curb halfway through raking. Eventually the grand, old oaks in front of his house came down to save him the trouble. It was a little shocking for those of us so used to the view. The sky seemed garish against his house; clouds scoured his roof line. The mountains loomed up behind his house and bore it down.
His friends would only stop over once a week or so now. We started to see someone come over and help out with the garden and the lawn with Charlie making a guest appearance now and then. He still always made sure to wave when he was out.
The first weeds started to show in Charlie's lawn late one Summer. We stopped and gawked and then moved respectfully on. No one waved at us from the swing any longer. The scents from his garden no longer greeted us on our back porch.
Charlie passed not too long after the first weeds showed up. Now they grow tall...taller even than his tulips once did. The house sits abandoned and The Boy can be seen riding his bike across his previously pristine lawn before we call him back.
Hopefully someone will move in soon and bring some life back into that small corner of the organism that is my neighborhood but I'm pretty sure, no matter what, it will always be Charlie's place.
UPDATED: In a peculiar turn of events, the day after I posted this, we saw a few vehicles at Charlie's place. They were moving furniture and other items out. We finally got an opportunity to talk to the people moving while we were riding bikes. It turned out that Charlie's niece, one of the people who used to stop over nearly every evening and swing, had bought Charlie's place and is moving in. She's retired now and it will be a few weeks until she moves in. I'm heading over to tomorrow to mow those weeds for her and give Charlie's place fresh look for a new start.