Portrait of the Landscape Artist
Edith was a spry little old lady who lived somewhere north of 80 years old. She also lived at the corner of my street, in a neatly kept little house that was painted gray with bright green shutters. There was never anyone else there, so I always pictured her life as one of solitude shared only with her cat, a big and very round fellow named Roscoe.
I never saw Edith during the winter. Snow and cold made my joints ache, so I can only imagine what they did to hers. But during the warm months, she was frequently outside in front of her house with Roscoe, where both warmed old bones in the therapeutic sun. I might stop and chat a bit if she were there as I passed on my way home. I’m a cat person, so Roscoe provided for some weighty (so to speak) discussion. Frequently, she'd be tending the colorful flowers blooming in the pots on her wisp of a front porch – snip snip – to the melodies of Debussy or Tchaikovsky drifting from inside the house. Music, she told me once, soothed the flowers’ souls and made them happy.
Forty years have past. I have long been gone from Edith’s neighborhood, and so has she. But the images of her, lovingly caring for her plants and murmuring to them as a mother would to a child as music flowed gently around her, have stayed with me all these years. My favorite memory of Edith is a mental snapshot taken one lawn-cutting day. Her house sat on a postage stamp-sized lot, but the lawn in front of the house was the stuff of Scott’s Turf Builder advertisements. It was lush, green, weed-free, and trimmed to perfection, thanks to Edith’s ministrations. Every Friday afternoon would find Edith, crawling around the lawn on her hands and knees, scissors in hand, trimming her tiny lawn – snip snip - and murmuring to it as a mother would to a child as the music played on.