It takes a village, and when my kids were little ours was sometimes hard to find. So when he knocked at my door looking for ways to earn money for a school trip, the village in me said yes. Here are the leaves. And there is the rake.
Gosh, he worked on/off all day his mother said when I ran next door to pay him. I said I was happy to come home from work and see what a nice job he did. Leaf raking was exacting and never-ending. One more leaf was always falling.
Yes, well- his mother said and we both stepped out to sorta take in the view of my front yard . . . and so funny . . . a few leaves swirled here and there. It’s impossible to get them all, and there are seven large trash bags of leaves on the curb. And sure, his mom and I pretended to be all stern: Oh, get that leaf right there. Quick before it blows away. But we are soft and knowing. Warm and round from the goodness her son brings back to our neighborhood with his earnest raking ways.
And then my mother called when I got back inside my house. We traded recipes and updated each other about our day. She had a Peach Chicken recipe for Cooking Guy next time I saw him. You could say the two of them come from the same kitchen. They are each other’s village when it comes to food.
“He threw away his spices,” I told her.
And this, with our waste-not upbringing, was impossible to fathom. I understand this, but so caught up in the reduced number of leaves in my front yard, I forgot to factor this in. I shouldn’t have told my mom. In a frustrated moment of taking care of his elderly-restricted-from-the-kitchen mother who has recently taken to cooking spaghetti twice a week with unadulterated sauce, he found relief in pitching out his spices. There was no way he could break her heart by telling her how bad her tomato sauce tasted. It was easier to toss that minced garlic out.
“Oh, hold on. What? You mean like his oregano and bay leaves?” Mom asked. There was no way her favorite Cooking Guy could be that rash. That caught up in a moment. But no. I mean, but yes. There was muy way for Cooking Guy to be that rash. And it was cleansing for him. And funny-liberating. He and I had both laughed when he’d told me what he’d done. Sometimes living has so few options. We don’t get things the way we’d like.
I knew my mom would understand that, but before I could say more there was a knock at my front door–my extra trash bags had been returned. A good time to change the subject. I told Mom about Raker Kid and how he had even raked leaves from under Pokey, the stalled-out pickup in my side yard. If we love anything, we love a story about hard work.
But, no. It seemed that salvaged spices trumped raked leaves.
“You don’t mean he threw out his rubbed sage,” she interrupted just as I was reaching the part about seven bags of leaves. “Tell him that stuff keeps forever. It’s not too late to get it back.”