While I am boiling dumplings at my archaic stove, this man has become a mini-series of stories for my mind to enjoy. Daily he wanders downstairs to water his plants or dry out red beans in the afternoon sun. His lanky shoulders tower over dainty dandelions as he steals dirt and puts it into his house plants. He shifts the dirt into piles so that passersby won’t notice what he’s doing. But I see. I watch his sly grin purse as he pats down the new dirt and he gingerly tends to the garden already there. As if being gentle minimizes the fact that he is stealing their dirt.
My kids roll through and talk to him. I watch him teach them about uses of the sunlight and how much water to feed a potted aloe plant. He laughs and sometimes scolds as my kids take off their shoes to run around in bare-footed freedom.
I’ve never seen a wife, son, or daughter with him. But his connection with his plants has become a stop in curiosity for me. He tenderly wipes their leaves with a soft rag. The flowers are spoken to. I haven’t listened to what he is saying, but I imagine he is telling them that he will be back tomorrow; that tonight it’s going to rain, so they will need to be brave. But he will be back tomorrow. As he exhorts the tiny dandelions all tucked in for the night, I see his sense of purpose straighten out his shoulders.
He doesn’t seem to notice their lack of size or significance. What he does notice is that they are there. He bends down to serve and he digs deep in love. He is constant. He is good. He is love.