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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Valentine (05/16/05)

TITLE: Digging Deep
By Dori Knight


Bob waited near the shed, eager to start the spring garden. He was advancing in years, weaker, and less sharp, perhaps, but as loyal a friend as you could ask for, and I loved him.

We shared a passion for gardening, Bob and I, and looked forward to the simple pleasure of digging in the black dirt. It was a bond only a true gardener could understand.

“So, when are you going to retire that old thing?” my husband asked.

I was indignant. “That isn’t very nice. Bob has been faithful and loyal all these years. He’s dug me out of more holes than I care to remember.”

“Well, maybe that’s because ‘he’ is a shovel.”

I resented the ease with which he dismissed my old comrade. “Bob is more than a shovel. Bob is my friend.”

“Dear … it’s a shovel. An old, broken down shovel.” My husband examined the electrical tape that wound around Bob’s handle. “One of these days, you’re going to hurt yourself with this thing. Why don’t you just get a new one?”

“I don’t want a new one. I want Bob.”

“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He turned and walked toward his car, muttering something about asylums for crazy gardeners. I feared he would never understand. My husband, for all his wonderful qualities, knows nothing about the gardening arts.

He couldn’t tell the difference between foxglove and lupine, and the subtle nuances of various salvias were completely lost on him. The closest he ever got to gardening was the obligatory bouquet of roses he bought for me each Valentine’s Day.

No doubt he was on his way to the florist to pick them up as I stood there, surveying the garden spot. I sighed and began digging. Roses were my least favorite gift, followed closely by candy and jewelry. They were cliché; empty gestures that required no real thought. I would have preferred a bag of cedar mulch, or a flat of verbena.

Bob bit into the soil again, and I shoved him down deeper with my foot, then bent and pulled upward on the heavy load. The aroma of freshly dug dirt was released, and for a single moment, Bob and I were in our element; but when I straightened to turn the soil, a terrible thing happened. Bob gave way under the strain. With a giant crack, his handle snapped in two, and he lay there in the dirt, broken beyond anything tape could remedy.

I was still grieving the loss of my friend when my husband returned with the children’s Valentines. They squealed with delight at the boxes of chocolate, but I sat, morose, on the couch.

“What’s wrong?” my husband asked.

“Bob …” was all I could get out.

“Oh honey, I’m so sorry.” He said, sincerely. “I bought you something. Maybe it will make you feel better.”

I forced a weak smile, and braced myself for an onslaught of roses.

“Don’t worry, I didn’t buy you flowers this year.”

“Really? I said, perking up a bit. Perhaps he had been listening, after all.

“And no chocolates either.”

I was intrigued. No roses or chocolates? Where could this be going?

“And, I didn’t get you any jewelry either.”

He had my full attention now. “So what is it?” I sniffed, momentarily forgetting my recent loss.

He reached behind the door and pulled out a big stick.

“Oh. It’s … a stick. Well then. Thank you.” I said. Not the most enthusiastic response, but what else can you say, when your Valentine presents you with a great big stick?

“No, it’s more than a stick. You see, after I drill a couple of holes in it, and attach the D-handle, sharpen up the old scoop and screw it on here, and you’ll have ...”

“Bob!” I cried, and threw my arms around my husband’s neck, shocked and overjoyed.

Bob and I went on to dig many gardens over the years, and each time he sank into the ground, I was reminded of my husband’s thoughtfulness.

It is said that love is a many splendored thing, but I don’t believe it’s as complicated as all that. Sometimes, love is nursing your husband back to health, or changing your wife’s oil. Love can be glorious and noble, but more often, it is humble and content, and sometimes - just sometimes, love is as simple as a Valentine Shovel named Bob.

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This article has been read 1085 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Lee Schab 05/23/05
Bravo! Bravo! So this is only one of the first entries I've read but I've already declared it a winner. Wonderful writing! Loved every word. And I am so glad your relationship with Bob is still going strong LOL. What a thoughtful husband you have!
Blessings, Lynda
Maxx .05/23/05
nicely written! :-)
dub W05/23/05
Yes, this is one of my favorites.
Dixie Phillips05/23/05
Loved this..... Who can't relate to Bob? Such creative juices! I smiled all the way through it.
Karen Deikun05/24/05
Okay, this was just super! I've just begun gardening but I know how you feel about Bob. What an incredible husband. He may not know about Salvia, but he does know about the relationship of woman or man to tool!
Val Clark05/25/05
Delightful story. He could have bought a new shovel but he helped revive the old! Lovely insight.
Joanne Malley05/26/05
Just beautiful!
darlene hight05/26/05
Loved it! Very fun read!
Debbie OConnor05/26/05
Great work! It is wonderful when those who love us take the time to discover what it really is we want or need rather than taking the easy road. A very fun read.
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/26/05
I laughed out loud--that was great!!!!!!!
Tesiri Moweta05/27/05
Wonderful! Bravo!Many of us have different things dear to us as Bob is to you.How beautiful to see that love can be broken down into everyday life,with everyday things and everyday people.Thanks for sharing.God bless you.
John Hunt05/28/05
Excellent entry! Bravo.
Pat Guy 05/29/05
Perfect! This has got my vote! #1
Suzanne R05/30/05
"... sometimes, love is as simple as a Valentine Shovel named Bob." Beautiful, entertaining and profound! And congratulations on placing!
David Stewart05/30/05
This is one of my favorites of the week. As a gardner and a sentimental person I enjoyed this very much. Great job!

Lois Jennison Tribble05/30/05
Simply great, full of wit and wisdom. You have a fun, easy-reading style that demands an encore. Congratulations on your win, and keep submitting!
Benjamin Stephens05/31/05
This had all the heart of an artichoke. Skilled in an earthy sort of, "name-inanimate-objects" sort of way. Seems like I read somewhere that if you write about verbana you really should know that tomatoes do not like Evian. Nicely crafted piece with just enough guilt to get me out to the garden, where Bertha waits for me to till the soil - one shovel at a time. Congratulations - may Bob serve you well long after the preserves are preserved. -- Ben :o)