Miranda’s Garden Excerpt — Year 1 | Spring | Colorado Columbine/Love and Faith

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In my novel, MIRANDA’S GARDEN, I used moon phases and plants (and their symbolism) to serve as headings for sections. The purpose: to create mood and give some insight to the theme of the section.

Here’s an excerpt. (Miranda and her husband, Len, have recently arrived in Tyler, Colorado, to start the next chapter of their lives.)

Year 1 | SPRING
Tuesday, May 14, 1991
New Moon
Colorado Columbine | Love and Faith

Miranda worked into the early evening, the warm Colorado sun caressing her back, and she was surprised to find that, despite the fast approach of late June, the air didn’t feel heavy like the oppressive humidity in Illinois and Michigan. There, it held a weight that took shape, mildly choking when she breathed in, like being under water. When she inhaled the dry, clean air in Colorado, it felt good in her lungs, and they expanded more than ever before.

She swung her thick shag of dark hair over one shoulder to keep it out of her way and sat in the middle of the thirsty patch of earth, uprooting weeds. Crystal, her nearest neighbor, walked down the road with a man about Miranda’s age. On her way home from working at the salon she owned in Tyler, Crystal had made a habit of stopping to talk when Miranda was out in her yard, and the two women were becoming fast friends. Miranda went to meet them.

“This is my son, Ray,” said Crystal.

Ray commented on the vast improvement he saw in the cabin.

“Looks like something out of a magazine, doesn’t it, Ray?” said Crystal.

“Sure does,” he said, then adjusted his line of sight when a string of twinkling notes drifted out the open windows.

“It’s Len. Miranda’s husband,” said Crystal.

“He’s a composer. Classical.”

“Really,” said Ray.

Miranda tucked a rogue strand of hair behind her ear. “He’s working like mad to finish a piece.”

“For the Chicago Symphony,” said Crystal, beaming, as if Len were her own son.

“Impressive,” said Ray. Then, referring back to the cabin and the yard, “This is all quite an undertaking,” he said.

“She’s persistent,” said Crystal.

She motioned to the piles of dirt at the edge of the property, laughing. “I see you’ve got more plans.”

“Many more,” said Miranda, smiling.

“There used to be a trail right there. Between our properties,” Crystal said, pointing. “Next to that last pile of dirt.”

“What happened to it?” asked Miranda.

“Overgrown. Lack of attention. Old man Johnson was too sick to take care of it, and I sure as heck wasn’t gonna do it. I already spend too many hours on my feet at the beauty shop.”

Miranda smiled. “Wouldn’t it be fun to open it back up?”

Crystal laughed her hearty laugh again. “Ah, kiddo… I can read your mind. Knock yourself out.” She was holding a planter with delicate, pale blue, star-shaped flowers. She passed the pot to Miranda. “For you.”

Miranda took the plant from her friend and tamped down a wave of emotion. Kindness directed her way always touched her in a deep place. “What’s this for?” she managed. “Thank you.”

“It’s a ‘just because’ gift. Or a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift. Although we’re not much of a neighborhood up here,” she laughed.

Miranda’s cabin and Crystal’s house were the last two homes on the long, ascending road, with the next nearest house almost a mile away, a forest of trees between them.

“It’s our state flower,” added Crystal. “Colorado columbine.”

“It’s lovely,” said Miranda, gently holding a thin petal between her index finger and thumb. “So delicate. I love it.”

“Enjoy,” said Crystal, as she and Ray turned to walk back up the road.

Over his shoulder, Ray said, “It’s good for the soul, isn’t it?”

“Pardon?” said Miranda.

He turned to face her but continued to walk away, backwards. “All this digging in the dirt,” he said. “Good for the soul.”

Another feeling she couldn’t quite name rose up inside her. She tucked it away in one of her layers, smiled, and said, “Yes. It is.”