The dark rich soil felt warm and spongy between her fingers as the morning sun crept over the crest of golden sunflowers. Faithfully tending every plant, she trimmed, clipped and transferred fragrant greenery to a worn wicker basket. Pausing, she held a tidy bunch of thyme to her face and inhaled deeply. Closing her eyes she was transported back to when life was filled with hope and sunshine.
Thirty years prior, which felt like a lifetime ago, in nearly the very same spot, she tasted that earthy, minty herb for the very first time. Microscopic fibrous leaves clung to her gums, leaving her spitting and gagging. Her childhood palate unaware of nuance or moderation made her laugh as thyme had grown to become her absolute favorite flavor.
Grinning and gently running her hands over tiny vines, the fresh lemony fragrance overtook her. As a teenager, she had come to this very spot to escape the world. This horseshoe shaped garden had become a refuge from anxiety and doubt. Perched upon the red porous stones, she’d lose herself in the grandness of the universe while star-gazing and being serenaded by their neighbor and his Spanish guitar. This place had become a reliable constant, even in the most uncertain of times.
Carefully placing various bundles of fronds in her basket, she walked towards the kitchen. Her mind wandered, thinking of what to prepare with her haul. She learned how to make lemon-thyme chicken in college, it was delicious, had become a point of pride, and to this day remained one of her and her mother’s favorite dishes. She hoped she had all the ingredients on hand as she stepped through the shady door.
Rinsing her bounty in the large ceramic sink, her hands betrayed her once again as they trembled and ached. Now middle-aged, she found herself back in her childhood home. Loss of independence loomed as disease wreaked havoc on her body. The road before her filled with hazards and uncertainty.
At least the herb garden remained. At least she could still harvest thyme.