Two odd strips of earth hug one side of the newspaper building. For years they were barren ground. Then maybe eight or ten years ago, one of the building maintenance men, the quietest one, started tending the soil in these 2-by-12 bricked planters.
Over the years, he planted a riot of zinnias, a chorus of cosmos, a crop of cucumbers, a mishmash of morning glories. He weeded and watered like a husbandman. He took something bland and made it beautiful. The walk from the car to the building each morning took on a hint of anticipation: What would have broken through the soil last night? What new bud would be about to bloom?
Something’s different this year. The strips are weed-choked, neglected. Something happened, and there’s other ground to be tended for a season.
The profligate zinnias don’t care. They reseed themselves freely, return annually, and thrive on however much or little sun and water they get. Those flower heads that dried, died and got buried last year have sprouted, risen and bloomed again. Color and blossom and life, even in a fallow year.