Sat. May 6 continued
I was on the verandah brushing Juniper when Veronica returned. She took Ed Dowling’s message with a sly smile.
“Are you buying a house?” I asked.
“Can you keep a secret?”
“If you ask me to,” I said, then thought better of it. “I guess it depends on the secret. Is something happening?”
“The church is buying this complex,” she said.
“I thought it already owned it.”
“No, we just manage the property.” She is on one of the boards, I understood that. “We want to own the land.”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to build a parking lot on this apartment complex!” The thought made me sick. There’s plenty of Sunday parking all over the streets. Why churchgoers can’t walk a few blocks to sit for an hour is beyond me, but they all seem to have to crowd each other for spots.
“No. Well, maybe a little. We need to build a family center.”
“But what about us?”
She shrugged, tempering it with an encompassing sigh. “Oh, you’ll be moving on. Most people only live here for a few years. It’s just the old ladies who stay forever. And even we are sometimes capable of change.”
“But what will happen to Phoebe and Mrs. Moth. And you? Where will you go?”
“We’ll find places. We’ll be fine.”
“Does Phoebe know?”
“Oh, yes.” But her eyes flickered when she said this, and I knew she was lying.
If Phoebe knows about this, she doesn’t like it.
“Is that why you didn’t want us putting in a new garden?”
“Actually, it was one reason it didn’t matter that you did.”
I guess she’s right about most of us only living here a few years. That’s the way of it in a college town, but I’d been loving my time here and making tentative plans for a long stay. I’m attracted by the courtyard’s past and its emerging artifacts. And the garden! A garden is a bid for the future. When you plant one you can’t help but think of the years ahead. That’s just the way they are. Half of what you do and think is rooted, literally, in what will happen in the weeks and months ahead. I’ve heard gardeners say it takes twenty years to grow a good garden and that no one can call himself a gardener until he’s moved the same plant three times.
Professor Sergeant’s expensive investment in shrubs spoke to his future plans. He had no intention of going anywhere when he put in the kind of planting that would take years just to get settled. He hadn’t been told of this. That I knew. I wondered how he would take the news. And I wondered if I’ll be the one to tell him.