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Green Acre #476: Greg the Gardener

By Stephanie Cavanaugh

BECK IS FLAPPING the brass mail slot. Flap. Flap. At 4½ he’s too short to reach the doorbell. His nanny is down on the sidewalk, keeping a watchful eye.

Flap. Flap.

I ignore him. This is a demand for My Prince, who’s called Greg, since that’s his name. 

Hi Beck, Greg says, opening the door. What’s up?

Your porch is a mess. Beck scowls. 

This is true. There are tools scattered about, brushes, a paint can. Beck and our grandson Wesley, who’s a bit younger though not by much, have a thing about messes, though that doesn’t mean they’re particularly neat in their own rooms. This is a debacle, Wes once said, hands on hips, looking into Greg’s office. 

I’m fixing the window boxes, Greg tells Beck. These are big wooden ones, built 25 years ago to decorate the five front windows, and they’re showing their age. When they’re fixed, I’m going to paint, he says. 

Beck brightens. I can help you! I’m a really good painter, I paint at school every day.

This goes back and forth for a time, Beck insisting, Greg gently demurring. I’m sitting in the living room, watching the news, staying out of it, laughing. 

Greg has a relationship with every kid in a three-block radius, calling out to them as they waddle or pedal their trikes past on their way to the park with their nannies, moms, dads. Hi, Greg! They call if they’re able to speak. Or they’ll give him a toothless grin. He’s got them trained. 

He knows all of their names (he also knows all of the dogs’ names). Stella, Anna, Charlie . . .  Few appear to be older than 5. I have no idea who most of them are.

Greg’s outside a lot. He gardens, while I think of things for him to plant, or move, or do. Our division of labor. 

He started with the tree box under the giant elm that stands in front of our townhouse, digging in seed, dividing liriope, a carefree filler. From there he moved south to our neighbor Pat’s curbside garden, mainly grasses, rose of Sharon, mock orange. Then in the other direction to the boxes in front of Dean and Alyson’s, then Anouk and Alex’s. He stopped there because Rebecca, Beck’s mom, does her own thing. He serves as an adviser to the rest of the block, not that he knows what he’s doing. 

Come out and tell me what this is, he’ll say, rousting me from my desk, or the back porch where I hide. I have an app on my phone that can identify a plant and its health from a bit of foliage. Handy this, since many of them are volunteers, seed having blown from somewhere and taken root. 

Lately, he’s extended his tending to the narrow border that runs along the alley fence behind our houses. Packed in are sunflowers and peonies, black-eyed Susan and morning glory, mock orange and iris. It’s the only place around that has full sun. If there’s no rain, there’s need for a system of hoses and epic bouts of watering.

And does anyone help me? He grumbles. No, but they all admire his effort. I do too. Haphazard as it is, he has created a lovely wild garden.

Maybe Beck can help, though he’s very opinionated. Both his parents are lawyers. In fact, pretty much everyone around here is, except us, which probably accounts for the lack of enthusiastic assistance.  

There’s a big bag of wildflower seed sitting on the back-porch dining table. Tell me where to put them, Greg said this morning. 

Sure. Maybe there’s a bare patch around the corner. 


Grownup Girl Fashion by MyLittleBird

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2 thoughts on “Green Acre #476: Greg the Gardener

  1. Maggie Hall says:

    There’s a TV comedy series here:
    “Beck & Greg”.

  2. Mary K Weddle says:

    I love this story! If every neighborhood had a Greg, the world would be a friendlier place! Thanks for this!

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