Lavished in bright morning sunshine after a light spring rain--Laurel and Tommy traipsed about--wee hand in gloved hand--touring the back yard. "Look!" Laurel exclaimed, "The purple lilies are blooming!" She hoped to pique young Tommy's interest in gardening. "The wind carried more silver maple tree seeds to the herb garden!" Laurel couldn't contain her excitement, as they moseyed past a long line of damp greenish terra-cotta clay pots growing last spring's rescued maple seedlings, as Tommy let loose of her hand, eying the shiny red swing inviting him to play.
Nabbing her oft used weeding tool from the side of the house, Laurel stooped to chop weeds from their once hopeful position among young herbs; being careful not to disturb maple seedlings; she kept a trained eye on Tommy as his sturdy toddler legs carried him closer to the freedom the "north forty" swing offered.
Laurel's eyes fell to the blue rose of sharon hedging her property, as she pushed a stubborn blond curl behind her ear. "I don't know which I like more, the flowers on that bush, or the meaning behind its name and color. "Blue signifies Jesus," she thought, as a song from her days in Baptist youth choir erupted forcefully through her memory. Singing with an imaginary fermata over the last note, in a warm soprano voice: "Jesus Rose of Sharon, Bright and Morning Star, fairest of 10,000 to my soul."
"I'm swingin' in the nor' forty, Aunt Laurel! Look!" Tommy shouted. Laurel's voice rang back, "Ha! north forty--feet--not acres!" Laurel tried to cram as much as possible onto her small homestead. Last fall, Tommy "helped" plant fruit trees she selected under Mr. Borst's skilled tutelage. A Hollander by birth, and expert horticulturist from a youth, Mr. Borst and his praying family survived Hitler's regime and migrated to the plains of America. Their nursery offered the best landscaping botanicals for fifty years, including Laurel's lusty bougainvillea.
Seeing the abundant blossoms, Laurel thought of her niece Elizabeth's high school graduation one year ago. "Wasn't it yesterday I felt her warm little hand clinging to mine? Now grown and making her own decisions; including delaying college," she sighed, "her unexplored talents have been set aside, replaced by work at the corner book store."
Making her way to the new lavender plant, while pondering the possibilities of Beth's creativity, "If I top-out this budding lavender, it won't bloom this year; yet--stopping this bursting growth will help the roots mature--and bring a bloom in full glory next year," she mused, looking to be convinced of the harsh surgery. Wincing, with scissors in hand, she made quick work of the painful pruning.
"My beloved niece and her high school sweetheart want their own home and family, at eighteen!" Laurel lamented. "Beth hasn't pursued the dream shared in long ago late night talks--dreams of becoming a teacher."
"Tom-Tom, don't swing high, you're going break-neck speed! We don't want any owies," she hollered as he gave his legs another kick, pushing against the wind. Reverie broken, Laurel walked to take the rope in hand, firmly slowing the young boy.
Tommy, under her watchful eye, governed his speed and swung gently as she continued her thoughts, "It has been weeks since I helped Beth prepare an application to the nearby teacher's college. Was it a seed left untended?"
Laurel felt a tug at her heart; she promised herself she would pray more diligently for Beth, and let "The Helper" do His work; long chats seemed unfruitful. If God needed to "put a lid" on a youthful marriage, He could do it.
Laurel completed her pruning, and with a look towards Tommy, she fairly flew towards him as the youngster bounded from the fast moving swing. Landing on his backside before she could reach him, Tommy jumped up quickly, laughing, and rubbing his leg. "I okay, Aunt Laurel, jus' a li'l bump." She peered into his piercing blue eyes, "Only a little one?" as she cuddled his warm chest to hers. "I love you Tom-Tom," she declared, "Auntie doesn't want you hurt!"
Mentally noting to ingrain within her nephew the dangers of going at anything too fast--she guided her cute little charge to nap time, and herself to pray for his sister. "After all," whispered the now resolute Laurel, "The 'Tutor'--if allowed--would wisely govern our beloved Beth through another of the pressures of youth. Hadn't He always done so?"
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