#47 In Roads-Adam and Eve
Fred is a quiet man who seems to enjoy his time alone in the fenced, 1-acre garden next door to my friend’s house. He comes from his home in the city a few times a week to tend the fruits and vegetables on the dead end street up on the hill. I come to the fence and ask what all he has planted. He seems shy but rattles off the list.
“I have strawberries and four different kinds of raspberries, too. You know how you want to try all the different varieties, right? So I’m planting them all. And along the fence there are blackberries.” He shares the list of veggies he’s planted before he says, “But I still need to plant more.” I ask how many are in his household. “It’s just me and my wife. I call this my man cave. My wife hates it.” He shakes his head. “She says it’s too much pressure to have to deal with all the food I bring home, so I give a lot away. She says that if I die before her, the first thing she will do is sell this property.” He looks around the tidy garden he’s laid out in the middle of the apple orchard. “That’s kind of mean, don’t you think?” I nod and cannot think of anything nice to say to console him so I bite my tongue.
“I’ve never had a garden,” he tells me. “I’m just experimenting to see what grows. Everything here is an experiment. This was my way of keeping busy in my retirement and I’m really enjoying it. You’d think she’d like it, right? She’s never even been here.” He seems perplexed by it all, and sad.
I ask his age and can tell it’s not an answer he wants to give. He stares at the ground a few seconds before he responds with a deep sigh. “I’m 67. I retired from a consulting job. Are you retired?” he asks. I laugh and tell him I don’t think writers are allowed to retire because the words will simply clog up their brain if not penned. He nods and says yes, he can see how that could happen. He picks three small zucchini from the hearty plants and apologizes for the ants before he hands me the fruits of his labor. It’s a gift he’s very proud of, despite the opinion of his wife, and seems to shine when I fuss over how precious the present is and how grateful I am. Fred wishes me safe travels before he returns to his work with a smile. I wish him a good crop and return to loading up the Beast.