She walked into the garage to get the pruning clippers. Today’s project, she had promised herself, was to cutback the grape vines, roses and raspberries. No more procrastination.
There were the clippers, in the place he had made for them, resting between two large nails that cradled the narrow connection between the blades and the handles.
She slipped them off and turned to go back outside, then stopped. There it was.
Full of bags and boxes. Full of all the things he’d collected, gathered. Bags of dried garlic stalks, iris leaves, day lilies. Boxes of old picture frames and rusty metal hinges. The stuff of projects. The ‘you-never-know-when-you-might-need’ accumulations.
Most days she ignored this space. Drove in, parked the car and scooted out with the groceries or mail. No chance to look too long. See too much.
This morning she had left the car at the service station to put on the winter tires.
The garage and all its contents were no longer hidden. They were in plain sight. Exposed.
Her eyes wandered, picking out the odd and the mundane: the CD player still balanced on the window sill, used for listening to Louie Prima and Keely Smith tunes while they played bocce; a dozen sand bags for the bed of the 1989 truck, long since sold; stacks of tomato cages; the vertical tangle of old cross country skies and poles. And more.
I should tackle this, she thought. It’s been four years. No excuse to hold on to things that she was never going to use. They were hardly worth giving away either.
She kept thinking someone could put them to good re-use.
Or that they would magically be swept away by a kind hand who would unload her of this detritus of a loved one’s death.
Holding the clippers in both hands, she stared.
She had a choice. She left the garage.
She looked around the garden at the grapes, the roses, the raspberries…
Cutting back. It was something she held off as long as possible. A sign of endings. End of warmth. End of color and harvests. End of the summer life.
She decided to start at the grape arbor when she felt the soft wet on her forehead. She looked up instinctively. There they were. Snowflakes hanging, suspended in the autumn air. Almost unreal in this, their first appearance. She closed her eyes and turned her face up to catch more flakes. To feel them on her nose and eyelids, chin and throat. Light, wet moments. Snowflakes are different than raindrops, she thought. Softer. A wet caress.
She stood long enough for her face to be covered. Long enough to taste the salt running into her mouth.