She worked outside

She worked outside, which was better than working inside. Inside, clutter tripped her as she walked in the front door, the front hallway paved with mismatched shoes scattered over two mats and a 3 tier shoe rack. A multi-pronged coat rack leaned left, overloaded with jackets, hats, backpacks and purses. It blocked the light from the narrow window the length of the door frame.

The hallway smelled like socks at the end of a long day, sweat in pleather  boots, wet canvas sneakers, overflowing bins of winter hats, mitts, and ski balaclavas spilled onto the closet floor. With the furnace pumping heat since the first frost, inside was an array of dust motes perpetually in motion.

Outside it didn’t matter that most of the maple leaves had flown from the tree’s branches in their lazy southward migration to the earth. This was natural order and there was no quibbling with wind and rain or the summer-long drought that urged the tree to let go of its offspring, so carefully grown; now casually drifting away.

Desiccation outdoors lead to mulch and rich earth. Inside desiccation leads to dust and chores, dust-bunnies and clogged air-ducts. Outside squirrels rustled in leaves chasing each other round and round and round the tree trunk, and spiraled into the branches where their nests hung like patio lanterns.

Image result for heuchera palace purple

Failures outside were lessons learned for next year.The purple heuchera that failed to thrive under the maple tree? Move it to the shade by the garage and see what happens. And if it dies? Buy another. Start again.

Inside her mistakes compounded year by year and greeted her in the morning mumbling monosyllables, multiplied by hours of silence until at night she choked on quiet and stumbled out of bed for a drink of water, and then , of course, a pee later, and past midnight she wondered where and when and why?

Years of nagging, yelling, cajoling, pleading slipped by inside. Get up. Get moving. Get a life – ricocheted inside.

Her wisdom – eat meat you need iron go for a walk your brain needs oxygen go to bed your brain needs rest – were met with silence, hunched shoulders, ears plugged with little white ignore buds, excuses and blank eyeballs. “Did you say something?”

Outside she helped. Outside, the garden inhaled every word she said. Yes, she worked outside, which was better than working inside.

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13 thoughts on “She worked outside

  1. I love how the story starts and ends in a similar note but in a different style. Great rhythm to the words especially ‘Years of nagging, yelling, cajoling, pleading slipped by inside. Get up. Get moving. Get a life – ricocheted inside’ pushes the moment towards the reader.
    Thank you !

  2. I do feel more comfortable and free outdoors, less stifled. This somehow reminded me of gender roles in the “olden times” were such that women were like children, often expected to be “seen but not heard.” Nicely expressed!

  3. I think you render it perfectly— the need for “space” we all feel sometimes… and the frustration with a habitual enclosed environment of persons and stuff. Whether it’s the adolescents wanting their earbuds and cell phones to transport them to a preferred world, or the ennui of adult responsibilities assuaged by something like gardening, perhaps we all know that wish to go outside, to be elsewhere. You’ve captured it impeccably, Susanne, and as usual with wonderful writing.

    • I think you said “blushworthy” on one of your replies to a reader and I am blushing at this lovely comment, Cynthia. Gardening has been a source of satisfaction this fall as we’ve had protracted warm weather and lots of opportunity to be in the yard “working”. I never feel like I’m “working” in the garden but housework oppresses me.

  4. What a lovely post! I loved “Inside her mistakes compounded year by year and greeted her in the morning mumbling monosyllables, multiplied by hours of silence until …”
    My husband and I are like the people in a cuckoo clock, when I’m in he’s out and when he’s in I’m out.

"The river flows both ways." (Margaret Laurence)

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