It’s been ninety years since a garden was tended in this place. Apple trees lined a rutted dirt road that lead to the grainery and barn. Grandmother toiled there many days. On Friday, she burned the trash within the confines of a rusty old barrel. The other items went into a pit at the edge of her garden, broken plates and cups, empty jars, tin cans. She would toss a few shovels full of dirt onto the latest additions to the pit and forget about them. Ninety years…there is little left to recognize in this field.
Now, her great-grandson is digging a hole for a new apple tree. The shovel hits chunks of coal and shards of broken ceramics, white and cornflower blue. Another shovel of dirt produces tin cans, a soldier molded from melted lead, old glass jars with raised lettering. What was this place?
His mother kneels beside the mound that holds the memories of her grandmothers strong back and iron will. She thinks of her uncle as child, molding his lead soldiers. She sees her grandmothers soiled dress and ragged apron blowing around with each swing of the shovel.
“What is it, mom?” The young man asks when he sees the tear on his mother’s cheek.
The mother rises, wiping her hands on blue jeans with tattered knees. “Just thinking,” she sighs, “Of how life changes, but stays the same.”
A new apple tree is gently placed in the ground. The shards of yesterday rest once more beneath the ground. They walk together to the old house where their family has lived for five generations, past the old pantry on the porch and the oil lamp from the coal mine.
Somehow, for a moment, the past and present meld together. We are all one, one breath, one tear.