You won't find a yard like this anymore. You'd think it would seem smaller now that I'm an adult, but it doesn't. It's still enormous, stretching far beyond the house like a grassy sea. The hills roll like the tide, dotted with patches of melting snow that remind me of cresting waves. All around me, the gardens wake from a wintry slumber.
cling to naked branches--
a robin sings
Time stands still here in Nana's garden; the ghosts of childhood haunt every inch of the yard. There's my brother, climbing the ancient apple tree, throwing crab apples at my sister as she plucks daisies. Even as she dodges apples, she plucks away - asking no one in particular if she's loved or not, leaving a trail of petals in her wake. And there I am in my grass-stained skirt, twirling and twirling, falling dizzily to the ground, oblivious to my sister's shrieks of protest and my brother's triumphant laugh.
I shake my head and the vision clears. Now the garden is empty - still overflowing with trees and shrubs and flowers, but lacking in laughter, mischief, and innocence. Innocence has been replaced by wistfulness.
glide across the sky--
a door creaks
"Tea's ready, dear."
I glance over my shoulder at Nana. She stands on the back porch wearing her favourite apron and my favourite smile. Like her garden, she hasn't changed. A few more silver strands in her hair, a few more lines around her eyes - but she is still the same woman who took care of us, tending to us just as she tended to her gardens. She smiles at me now, as if she knows that garden has cast a spell over me.
With another glance at the apple tree, I follow Nana inside the house - and I swear I can hear echoes of laughter behind me.