The gate blends almost seamlessly with the fence. Fashioned of some inexpensive wood, it is dark and splintery, unpainted, and unvarnished. It bears many dark grooves, like rough wrinkles in an old man’s face, weather beaten over the countless years since its erection. It is held closed by a small zinc latch secured with a bit of blackened wire. Within its unassuming embrace a garden is tended by nature’s caretakers. Big furry bumblebees, striped with bright bands of yellow and black, busy themselves over the whip-like tendrils of a lavender bush. True to the name, the blossoms are of varying hues of soft and deep lavender, while the stems and leaves of the bush are a frosty green under the coat of fine velvety hairs.
Butterflies with wings of orange and black lace flit lazily about, visiting first one flower, then another. Delicate black legs hold them poised upon branch or bloom as they gingerly extend a long glistening tongue into the secret bed of a flower and draw from it the sweet elixir of life. Tangled vines of musty smelling nasturtiums spill out over stone borders, creep up on faded green cacti and purple tipped succulents, run their long fingers through the dark beds of lavender and unruly humps of catnip. A fuzzy black caterpillar inches its way over the parched bark of a juniper shrub, its body undulating with the motion. In the shallow bowl of a plastic birdbath, a small, dark-eyed winged creature shakes and shivers its tail feathers. Tall elm trees drop clusters of black pods upon a multicolored assortment of natural river rock. They huddle together on the western side of the garden, excluding the sun from their private affair with the stones below.
In the center, concrete stepping stones are pieced together to form a square pathway. Each one bears an impression of a man in a sombrero resting in the shade of a saguaro. Tucked within its perfect perimeters, a vast patch of green grass gazes emptily upward at the blue sky way. Its starkness is marred only by a low-cut stump, the remnants of a once vibrant willow that fell prey to some disease. Now the plot of grass inadvertently serves as a memorial commemorating the life of a tree, its emptiness a nagging reminder of lost fullness.
Adjacent to the garden is a covered porch carpeted with sparkling clean AstroTurf. On one wall, there is a window which looks in through sheer draperies upon a dim master bedroom. On the other wall, a sliding glass door opens into a living room. Big daisy stickers adorn the glass. On a narrow sliver of wall between the glass door and the corner where the two walls join, six decorative flower pots are arranged on a shelf with six individual outcroppings for each pot. The pots themselves are empty, save for a thick layer of dust. Inside the living room, a silver haired old man and a much shorter white haired old woman are waiting. The man stands near the glass door. He is tall and his silver hair is dashingly curly. He wears a pair of overall shorts, in the style of an over grown boy. The buttons which connect the straps to the breast are over sized and fashioned of wood. The creases in his face are deep but soft. His skin is smooth, free of whiskers or stubble. The woman sits upon a chair, she wears a white sweater vest over a brightly colored moo moo. The carpet is a shag rug of a burnt orange color to match the butterfly’s wings.