“DO YOU HAVE ANY GLADS?” I asked Steve Twiehoff after my husband and I selected fresh baby red potatoes, green beans and a bag of northern Minnesota grown wild rice at Twiehoff Gardens on Faribault’s east side Sunday afternoon.
“I stopped cutting them,” Steve answered. “The deer were eating them.”
I must have looked disappointed or sighed because he told me then and there that I could head out to the field and cut whatever gladioli I wanted—three for $1.
He pointed toward the slim opening in the pole shed doors, past the onions and gourds and pumpkins piled on a trailer, then outside and across the gravel parking lot and up the hill.
“I’ll be back,” I said accepting the clippers this vegetable farmer handed to me. I aimed for the field that held glads, flowers rooted deep in my memory. I can still see the rows of gladioli rising above the greenery of the vegetable garden, splashing pinks and yellow, but mostly orangish red, across the land. My mom’s one small spot of beauty upon soil otherwise designated mostly for crops to feed the family and the livestock.
Steve knew none of this when he gave me the clippers.
But as I worked my way across the uneven and weedy patch of abandoned vegetable and flower garden in my flip flops, I thought of my mom and of her gladioli and how each fall she dug those bulbs—and later I did, too—to winter over in the cellar, to replant in the spring.
I snipped three stems of pink blossoms from Steve’s garden, the only trio that appeared salvageable.
Clippers and blooms clutched in my hand, I aimed back for the pole shed to give Steve my dollar.
I laid the flowers on the counter and reached to unclasp my purse. “You can have them,” he said.
I stopped, looked at him. “Are you sure?”
“Thank you. That is so sweet.”
I picked up the stems. A smile touched my lips. I strode past the onions and gourds and pumpkins piled on the trailer, slipped through the slim opening between the pole shed doors, climbed into the van and considered how Steve had touched my heart with his thoughtfulness and kindness.
© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling