KidSpirit

A Different Green

Money and ValueAwesome Moments

It was a job, my first real job.

Truth be told, I had always been puzzled and amazed by my classmates’ abilities to find children to babysit, land positions at the local grocery for the summer, and take care of neighbors’ pets.

My family lacks friends with young children, and we do not live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, lined houses, or leashed dogs. No grocery market wants to employ a girl who does not have regular transportation and is bound to drop a case of water on an elderly woman’s foot while loading her car. (What kind of service would that be?) With all the odds against me, I had accepted my predestined fate of being broke until I turn 16 and pass my road test; this dependence had come to be all right with me.

Photograph by Julia Allen

July, however, brought something new.

It may have only been 15 dollars, but money had never looked so green between my fingers. For almost three weeks I was to water a recent high school graduate’s garden while he and his family were away in the Adirondacks, a task I would have willingly done for free if it wasn’t for his persistence. The pay was nothing compared to the joy received from climbing his hill every day to turn on the spigot and pick dead pieces away from tree branches. Each day I would linger around the fenced tomatoes as they were coated with pearls of water. The sprinkler drenched a good many yards of grass beyond it also, allowing my feet to dive into and recede from a mush of fertility. In and out and side to side they went, covered in water and mud whether naked or shod.

Photograph by Julia Allen

In the center of this Garden of Eden was a bush that bore thicker fruit than the rest and extended its branches proudly to the sky. She was my closest of all acquaintances in the garden. She offered the opportunity to burrow my feet into soil being sprayed without being doused by the rotating sprinkler. After caring for the plants in the garden that the sprinkler didn’t reach, I sat beside her and lamented about the letters I was writing a fellow writer and questioned how one could be reinvented in a single summer. Somehow this bush heard me between the cricket’s evening songs and a descending sun. It was the most lovely of almost-friendships (“almost” because one cannot really befriend a plant; I am certain that you, like I, have tried).

The garden left in a wisp without a goodbye, as it was taken back from me a few nights early without warning. The family returned home from their trip before expected, leaving me to cold disappointment when I stepped out of my house to find theirs illuminated. A minivan with kayaks was pulled into the driveway, and laughter rippled from the house’s hazy windows. Now three months later, nothing resonates the same tranquil chord of what I came to in that garden, the garden that fed me words, soft-falling tears, and lullabies.

In no way will I remember it because of the money.

Julia M. Allen’s passion for the written word stems back to when she was just learning to communicate. A 15-year-old high school sophomore, she attends Susquehanna Valley Senior High School in Conklin, New York. She enjoys the smell of lemons, photography, and endless stacks of literary journals.

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