Spring is almost here, along with all the yardwork that statement implies. This year’s spring cleaning will feature weeding, fertilizing, and pruning, as well as a new task: filling in the holes made by the Red Dog during the dark and wet Seattle winter. I’m not especially good at yardwork, but you’d never know it, thanks to the loving care of the Brazilian man who tends my lawn and trees. A neighborhood realtor recently praised my house’s “pristine curb appeal,” which makes me proud, even though the only credit I can take is for paying his bills.
I hired him several years ago, when The Departed still lived here. In spite of his claim to being A Yard Man, lawn care seemed to involve lots of reminding by me and lots of trips to Home Depot by him. This was a trait he shared with The Foreigner, who, when we lived in Portland, insisted that old-fashioned manual lawnmowers were infinitely superior to electric or gas models. This would have been fine, except that my reminding had even less effect on him, and I ended up having to mow the lawn myself – until one day, when I was eight months pregnant and attempting to push the manual mower over three inches of wet grass, our neighbor came over, introduced himself for the first time, and offered to finish the job since he happened to be mowing his own lawn anyway just then.
On the face of it, The Foreigner and The Departed had very little in common: The Foreigner was my age, good-looking, well-traveled, and well educated. The Departed was older, a college dropout, and managed to bring every conversation about someplace else back to Seattle – all his roads led to home. But if you looked a little closer, you could see the similarities: the lawn care, of course, but both had mothers who died young, and both were left-handed. Both loved the great outdoors, yet married an unapologetic city girl.
Both like to ski, yet married me.