Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Gardener

Ted dropped the cardboard box to the ground, stood tall, and took a long, deep breath. Spring! He'd just heard the lively chirp of a bird, and there was sunshine this morning. Both were sure signs of spring and time to plant his peas. The sky hummed in a soft blue murmur with white wispy clouds feathering across. And an imposing sun beamed warm enough to make him remove his dusty, brown gardening jacket.

"Life is good," he muttered, setting about to spade the soil. "Yes, sir! There is nothing like communing with nature on a beautiful spring day." Kneeling, Ted worked with diligence, depositing several neat rows of seeds, next standing to survey his work. With a battered watering can poised and ready, he covered the rows in sparkling streams of water. Finally, he brushed the dirt off his pants and went inside the house for lunch, satisfied.

Tessie, his wife, sat in the kitchen eating. Grabbing a tuna sandwich, he plopped into a chair next to her and gazed out the window at his handiwork, beautiful rows of seeds planted and moist from being watered. He had taken a fresh bite when he jumped out of the chair with his mouth full, sputtering and spitting bread, "WHAT THE HECK?"

"Ted, what's wrong?" Tessie asked.


Ted ran to the yard flailing his arms and screaming, "SHOO! SHOO! STOP EATING MY SEEDS!" Unearthly squawks and fluttering black wings encircled the poor man, leaving him to swing his arms about wildly until finally the birds disappeared into the trees. Exhausted, Ted looked at his neatly sown rows and sighed. The soil was pushed around and the rows of seeds were picked clean.

He spent the afternoon pondering how to scare away the birds for good and decided on making a scarecrow. First, he found some old blue jeans and a red flannel shirt in the rag box. A search through the house uncovered an old straw hat, and he packed some rags into a pillowcase and fashioned it into a round head for the scarecrow. He stuffed the clothes full of rags and attached it all together into a giant doll, then set it up in the garden by tying it to a wooden post. It loomed as if guarding him while Ted replaced the seeds that had been stolen by the pesky feathered creatures. This time he completely forgot about how invigorating spring can be. Mostly, he cussed under his breath.

The scarecrow worked well. No birds returned, and the next day as he enjoyed his lunch while gazing out the window. Ted again felt satisfaction for his gardening work.

"Looks a little like rain today!" Tessie commented as she took a bite of her sandwich.

"Nah! It's not going to rain! Even if it does, it will be good for my garden," Ted replied.

As if by magic a burst of thunder rattled through the kitchen, and raindrops pelted the window.

"Good for the garden!" Ted repeated.

The rain, gentle at first, intensified until its pounding on the roof drowned out all other noise. Ted gazed lazily out the window. Suddenly, he jumped out of his chair. "MY SEEDS! THE RAIN IS WASHING MY SEEDS AWAY!"

Indeed, the teeming rain didn't have time to absorb into the soil and instead flushed through the dirt, uplifting the seeds and carrying them downhill in a muddy river to the neighbor's yard. Next, as if bowing out in response to events, the water-soaked scarecrow slid from its post in one slow, sweeping motion with a whoosh and a plop.

The next morning, Ted rose early and started anew. He picked up the scarecrow and placed it back on the post. He sowed new seeds and fussed around building a dam so a rush of water wouldn't wash his seeds away again. He had forgotten by now the joys of spring and cussed out loud rather than under his breath.

His diligence paid off. The birds stayed away. It rained again and the floodwater was diverted away from his freshly sown garden. Now he was ready to check every day for sprouts to appear. One morning he came running into the kitchen from the garden, flushed and jubilant.

"Tess! Come outside! My seeds have sprouted!" He led her out, and she paused to admire the tiny green shoots.

"Ted! Oh, they are so cute," she said. After a thoughtful pause, she added, "Ted...what about rabbits?" She pointed to a bunny at the edge of the garden studying them, sitting up, one ear twisted in interest. Ted and Tess looked back at each other in dismay.

The next day, he bought a six-month supply of frozen peas and a bag of grass seed to cover over the garden. Store-bought peas ... good enough!

Copyright 2009 JO Janoski


  1. In the words of the immortal Roseanne Roseannadanna, "I'll tell you, it's always somethin'!" Poor Ted... I think that's why I never gardened. Good job, JO!

  2. Great story Jo! Something about peas... every time I've tried it the deer eat them!

  3. Ah, you guys are so nice. I wrote the story several years ago and polished it up last night. It's for fun and just a little spring prelude piece to get in the mood for all those warm breezes heading our way. Ahem!

  4. Hee! Hee! Jo! We've never planted peas here! One time the birds ate the buds right off our pepper plants! My father-in-law was so mad like the character in your story! I cut down my ornamental grass! Did you yet! Enjoyed your Spring story!

  5. Jo, Nope! Haven't cut the grass yet! Yeah, I've seen a lot of real life examples to base that character on. lol.