Reviving a previous painting prompt for this installment and a shout out to Jane Dougherty for her ongoing encouragement and insight. Read other installments of this story HERE.
Seasoning – Part 16
After Henry finished breakfast he threw on his overcoat, grabbed his hat and tipped it toward Hannah, “See you tonight then. Remember what I said about the landscapers. Whatever you need. And be sure to get that dress replaced at Jonathan’s.”
“Thank you. I will. I may not make it into town today, but I promise, before the week is out. Have a good da…” Hannah’s words hung in the air as Henry closed the door.
She cleaned the kitchen and checked the ice box and cupboards, making a list of items she needed for dinner. After calling the market with her order, she finished the rest of her daily chores. Finally, it was time to begin work in the garden.
Hannah heard the landscape crew in the front of the house. They were busy removing tree limbs and what was left of the charred trunks.
“Hello,” she called to them from the edge of the yard, “I have more for you to do in back when you’re finished here.”
“Hello Miss,” replied the crew chief, “Mr. Chambers said you might. Where can I find you when we’re done with these trees.”
“I’ll be in the back, in the garden…if you can call it that.”
A second crew member chimed in, “Oh yeah, Chief, you remember that garden. We used to help the missus with clearing and tilling every year about this time.”
“That’s right, Joe. It was one of the nicest gardens in the neighborhood, as I recall. Mrs. Chambers had quite a knack with flowers.”
“Well, I’m hoping to bring that garden back to life,” Hannah smiled, “I’m glad to hear that you are familiar with the place.”
“Yes ma’am, we know it pretty well,” said the chief, “we’ll get you started off right. You’ll probably be needing some topsoil too. We can have that back out here by tomorrow.”
“Oh yes, thank you. That will be perfect!”
Hannah turned to head back when a familiar voice called her from across the lawn.
“You hoo, Hannah dear!” It was Margery, arms laden with a basket and several jars.
“Thought you might be about ready for more fresh eggs. And I brought you some peaches too. Canned them myself last fall. They’re wonderful in a nice cobbler or pie. Do you bake? Well, of course you must! But if you’re interested, I have some good recipes. I’m happy to share them with you. Tried and tested on Mr. Gordon, they are. I’m sure you can tell by looking at him, he loves his sweets.”
By the time Margery had reached Hannah she was out of breath, but still clucking away; something about how many fruit trees they had, adding that she also had jars of apples and pears, some apple butter, and vegetables too, if Hannah was interested.
Hannah chuckled as she took the eggs and peaches from Margery. “Helen was right,” she thought, “Margery is quite a talker.”
“Thank you so much!” Hannah interjected, when Margery paused to take a breath. “These peaches will make a lovely dessert. I was just heading back to the garden, but I’d love to pause for a cup of tea if you’d like to join me.”
“Oh, thank you so much for the invitation, but I’m afraid I am on my way to town. Another time perhaps? I’m dying to hear more about the Waverly Estate. You lived there, isn’t that right?”
“Yes I did. My whole life! My parents still manage the household and grounds.”
“I can’t wait dear! We will have tea soon. But, I’m off. Have an appointment. Mustn’t be late, you know. Ta ta! Enjoy those peaches!”
Hannah brought the eggs and peaches into the kitchen. By the time she went back out to the garden, the landscape crew was waiting for her.
“Well, I can see that it’s been a while since this ground has been worked,” surmised the crew chief scratching his head, “I think we ought to start by removing all of that brush for you and then till the ground so it’s ready for topsoil.”
“Perfect!” Hannah replied. “That will be just perfect!”
“We’ll take care of it for you, ma’am.”
The market delivery boy arrived just as the crew got to work. Hannah directed him to the kitchen to deposit the groceries, sending him on his way with a shiny coin from the tip jar on the counter. She hummed a happy tune as she prepared dinner.
The landscape crew had completely cleared the brush and were tilling the soil when Hannah appeared in the back doorway with a jug of fresh lemonade and a tray of sugar cookies. As the work crew enjoyed a much deserved break, Hannah closed her eyes and breathed deeply, losing herself in the musky aroma of damp earth that filled the air. “This is what I dreamed of, what I hoped for when I came here,” she thought. Hannah leaned against the door frame crossing her arms to warm herself, “and tonight…”she sighed. Her mind swirled with possibilities.