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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)

TITLE: Happiness Is A Flower Garden
By Dolores Stohler


I’ve been an apartment dweller most of my life. A converted garage in Chicago was my birthplace, proceeding to a series of flats and apartments where my bed was a studio couch in the dining room. How thrilled, my brothers and I, when Mom and Dad bought a house for the first time and we had rooms of our own.

The yard was large and Mom was able to plant a vegetable garden. I loved to walk through the garden, picking the ripe red strawberries and pulling up onions. I wiped the dirt on my jeans and ate them fresh from “mother earth” who bore them. And there was a peach tree bearing the most luscious fruit I‘ve ever tasted. If I close my eyes and concentrate, the smells and the tastes come back to me.

There were snakes in the garden, mostly hiding in the bushes, and I squealed when one of them came slithering out at me. But I delighted in the miniature roses which blossomed in abundance along the trellis running the length of the back of our house. And what a joy to breathe the fragrance of French lilacs in Spring--a flower our town was known for--and to see the peonies blossom along the walk in gorgeous shades of red, white and pink, casting a fragrance of their own that stole your breath away. Monet, in his prime, might have painted our home in the Springtime, creating a palette of delight for everyone to enjoy.

But then I married, enduring a long succession of apartment dwellings, while my husband, who suffered from bipolar disorder, squandered the money we might have spent on a home. How I longed for a house with a garden that might have nurtured my children through their growing up years. But it wasn’t to be! My husband took his own life one night after an aborted attempt to snuff out mine.

The ensuing years were tough, with teens to raise, but softened with the help of the many wonderful Christian friends who comforted me. But I had no time to smell the roses and dream of the home that might have been.

Retirement brought a move to a different state and God was in that move. It was a great surprise to me when a kind and gentle Christian man wanted to end my years of widowhood. I could hardly believe my eyes when I first beheld his modest ranch home, nestled into a large corner lot with carnations at the corner, and a color spectrum of flowers gracing the back yard. I found the inside of the home less attractive but together we remodeled and refurnished the house to make it the lovely and comfortable home I’d always dreamed of.

I feel greatly blessed to be married to a man who loves to garden. Our yard is a paradise for our grandchildren to explore. Pansies of every kind and color bloom in our yard the year round. Even when snow covers the Rockies, there is always a brave little yellow or purple pansy poking its velvety head out of the piles of snow on the ground. In the summer, a trellis of red roses shades the path to the greenhouse where my dear husband coaxes his seeds into growing. Another trellis borders the vegetable garden, artfully wearing a flowing cape of purple clematis, while Sweet William in gorgeous colors surrounds the strawberry patch.

While many prefer to store their wealth in a bank or a mutual fund and watch it grow, I count my treasures in flowers and summer showers, blue skies and billowing clouds. From our patio swing I view house finches at the feeders, their tiny heads crowned with a cap of red feathers. The air is alive with their song. A strong breeze sends the wind chimes flying, thrilling the air with sound. But when I kick up my heels, the swing creaks to the rhythm of my feet.

Laughing, I send my thanks skyward as a small grandchild with cheeks of rose petals approaches with a ladybug to show. Her hair is like the blush of a Colorado dawn. Yes, happiness lives in a summer day--a day spent with people you love. Happiness is a flower garden.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Mariane Holbrook 07/21/07
"Cheeks of rose petals" and "blush of a Colorado dawn". There are so many colorful and beautiful descriptions in your writing! I almost missed the failed attempt on your life by your husband who succeeded in taking his own. This is such a poignant piece, at once beautiful and sad, as though you've been through a lot and cast around for anything that would bring you joy, and you found it in the intricate beauty of flowers. Very well done.
Dee Yoder 07/22/07
This is a beautiful story, full of colorful and descriptive words. The hope that stayed in your heart through the hard years, finally got to blossom and grow! Thanks for sharing your story.
Betty Castleberry07/24/07
This is lovely. As a gardener and grandmother myself, I can appreciate the rewards of having a garden, and sharing it with grandchildren. Very nicely done.
Kristen Hester07/25/07
Your story contains detailed and vivid descriptions of the houses and gradens. Nice job. There is such an easy,peaceful flow to the story even through descriptions of the hard times. I enjoyed this!
Donna Howard07/25/07
This has to be a true story so I'm glad it ends on a happy note. It is well written and your descriptive words are delightful, but the real beauty lies in your perspective on life, which is priceless! Nice work.
Lisa Holloway07/26/07
Your writing style is quite vivid and enjoyable to read. It's three-dimensional, incorporating not only the picture itself, but also the smells and feelings that go with it. Nice job.