From his verandah Harry surveyed the neighbourhood. Once it was a hive of activity; children playing, adults chatting over fences and gardening. It seemed everyone in the street loved gardening.
Shirley was the gardener in their household. Harry often joked that he was Chief Admirer and Consumer, enjoying her beautiful flowers and eating the delectable creations she made with the assortment of fresh vegetables she grew. But Shirley had passed away the previous spring and Harry, in his grief, self-isolated long before Covid-19 forced restrictions all over the country. The once beautiful garden was overgrown and as desolate as Harry felt.
“Hi Harry!” his neighbour John called out from his verandah. “How are you managing through the restrictions? Have you enough food supplies?”
“Yeah,” said Harry. Since Shirley passed away he visited shops as little as possible, buying extra and stocking up when he did, so he didn’t have to go out as often.
“All the neighbours have come up with an idea,” continued John. “We’ve all got surplus fruit and vegies, all different sorts, so we’re putting what we don’t need at our gates and we’ll take turns to walk up the street and take what we need. “I’ve got lots of tomatoes and Jim over the road had a bumper crop of apples. I’m sure some fresh vegies would help top up your supplies.”
“I wouldn’t feel right,” said Harry. “I’ve let the garden go since…since Shirley died. I’ve nothing to contribute.”
John started to tell Harry it didn’t matter, although he knew it would be hard to convince the proud man, when he spotted a carpet of purple beside the fence. “What’s that purple, Harry?”
“Violets,” said Harry. “Shirley’s favourites. They’re about the only things that survived.”
“Perhaps you could pick a few posies and put them out front as your contribution.”
“Yes, flowers. More than ever we need a touch of beauty to brighten our lives.”
Harry smiled for the first time since he lost Shirley. Overhead, the sun peeped out from behind a cloud and he knew she was watching over him.