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.
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.