Around and About

It’s Never Too Late for Love

Bill and I were on our morning walk with Uschi (our 5-year-old German Shepherd daughter) nearing the ocean when I spotted a stack of wicker baskets perched at the edge of the sidewalk.

One basket–woven of thick tawny straw–was large, rectangular, shallow, excellent for holding objects…another was a standard small wastebasket, the third was of thick chocolatey straw small and square. I stopped. “Ooh look, darling…”

“Yes. I saw them yesterday. There were more there then.” With our resident grandson Cameron still in Peru visiting his parents and me occupied in the garden or kitchen or desk, Dad mostly takes Uschi’s afternoon walk on his own…

“And you didn’t tell me?”

It wasn’t until I was in my sixties, freshly widowed, living in an unfashionable part of West L.A., that I discovered you can hand on a household appurtenance without having to schlep it to the Salvation Army by simply setting it out on the sidewalk where you live. It was a new idea because until then I’d lived in the country and there weren’t any sidewalks. I was enchanted by this resourceful community-oriented idea.

Now alas I am infamous in certain circles for keeping Too Much Stuff in our house… wonderful and beautiful objects from my mother’s and my own former lives. No surprise Bill didn’t come home and say, “Oh, by the way, darling, I know you love baskets and there are a few set out on Swanton…”

We continued our walk down to the ocean, at the end of the block I tapped the dark splotch on the streetlight pole there (a compulsion I’ve done since my walks on the mountain when I tapped a dark splotch on a particular big rock) turned around, and on the way back picked up the baskets. Because now I use a walking stick, this was cumbersome–Bill couldn’t help because he had Uschi in his left hand and in his right, the dog repellent (he’s never used it but he and Uschi have dodged a coyote).

A few steps further I heard a man’s voice behind us call out, “Can I help with those?”

Turning, I recognized the greybeard in his driveway who’d chattily greeted us a few times  as we walked by. He said warmly, “Let me drive those to your house.”

At such moments I flash on Blanche duBois’s “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers,” but I wanted not to appear feeble (it raced through my mind, I go to CrossFit three times a week so I can carry my own damn baskets!!!). Still I had to be realistic, cane on right side, tower of three baskets clutched to left side. Pretty silly to pretend I could do this for a quarter-of-a-mile. “Actually, you know, I’ll just get the car–”

“I’m headed up your way–I know where you are–going to do some painting for my friend Laura.”

Neighbors across the street were remodeling, the wife’s name was Laura, and I said, “Oh, how super…” and as he took the baskets, I asked, “And what’s your name?” I like to know people’s names.

“Mack,” he said.

“Thanks, Mack, so much.”

All this time, Bill stood mutely with Uschi. More stuff in his house. But my husband is wonderfully indulgent of me. I was aware of this and for a minute actually contemplated, “Hey, old girl, leave the baskets, you really don’t need them…oh but they’re beautiful, you can always use baskets…” just what my naysayers know about me.

A few minutes later as we three reached our street–which ran crosswise–I saw a handsome woman with bobbed gray hair carrying the baskets striding purposefully in the direction of our house. I wondered what she was doing with my baskets and I called out to her. She stopped, I thanked her, asked her name.

“Laura” she said.

“Oh, it’s your house Mack is painting.”

“Yes,” she said.

“And these must be your baskets?”


Bill politely touched his cap, then pressed on with Uschi toward home.

I introduced myself.

“We’ve met,” she said. Tipping her head toward a parcel across the street and two plots west, “I lived over there.”

A garden so thick with splendid fruits and flowers I could never see anyone in it–two immense pineapple guava trees, a Mirabelle plum tree, a Hachiya persimmon, a red crabapple, plus–and out of reach of the three fat red chickens whose garden it also was–patches of lovage, blue basils, many sorts of lavender and thyme, breadseed poppies, a long arbor dripping with varicolored pods of beans. I exclaimed, “Oh! Of course! Of course!”

On my walks I’d long admired that garden and wondered whose it was, never saw anyone in it.  Then several years ago of an afternoon walk, someone was pruning close enough to speak to, so I stopped, burbled how much I loved her garden.

“Gosh, it’s been so long–and last week I saw the moving truck in your driveway and was sad you were leaving. I’m so sorry not to have seen you again…”

A pretty woman with a direct mien, she said, “Didn’t move far. Just down the street.” A tiny bit of a beat, the sort one takes when trying to decide whether or not and what to say next. “I moved in with Mack.” The blue eyes were direct. Smiling.

“Ah,” says I. “So those are your baskets!” (a little voice whispered, You already asked her that.)


“I’m so glad! And your hens? Where–?” I’ve kept chickens, wished I still could.

“They’re with a family. And my house will have a family with small children in it.”


“Yes.” We were still in the street, a car was slowing down nearby, she said, “Let me put these by your door.”

“Oh, I can–”

Off she trotted. I could’ve managed them, but she was younger and faster. Moments later she was back.

“Thank you for that!”

Shaking her head, she said, “I must admit, I envy you your rhubarb!”

My monster rhubarb plant near the front door is on its third year which means I can harvest stalks now (you’re supposed to wait till the second year, but last year COVID wasn’t over and I wasn’t in a rhubarb mood ~ rhubarb, sometimes blush green and sour and well, slimy, takes a special frame of mind, don’t you think?), so this year I’ll make my first rhubarb crisp in ages. “Oh, I grow it for myself and for our neighbor Daisy…also a rhubarb person. Now that I know where you live, I’ll make a rhubarb treat for the three of us… ”


I’m fascinated how chemistry works…how you can warm to a person just about instantly, know they’re your sort and you are theirs…felicitous feeling. I said, “I’m so happy for your happiness.”

Then she said with just the merest flicker of self-consciousness, “I’ve known Mack for years, we’ve been friends for years, but just recently we decided to move in together.”


“Well, you told me ‘It’s never too late for love…’”

I was knocked cockeyed. Then this old brain revved up and reminded me of the chat we two had that day. I was The New Girl on The Block–ours is a settled tract neighborhood–and with her gardener’s garden, her chickens, her gray hair, her warmth, I must’ve confided how I got there, about my years of solitary widowhood and Bill’s painful time of widowerhood and that the commonality of our lives made it clear we were destined for one another, and I must’ve burbled…

Yes, that It’s never too late for love.

And now her time  had come…

5 Comments. Leave new

  • Oh Sylvia. You continue to know me out, both your life and your writing. A beautiful piece.

  • I recently read a comment: “I do my best proof reading right after I hit send.” So, just let me say that I wanted you to know that you KNOCK me out, both your life and your writing. Enjoy those baskets. I see you using them to carry the harvested dinner veggies in from the back 40 (the garden patio).

    • The large basket now holds myriad storage containers on the trolly opposite the fridge–beautifully organized. Hope to fill the medium basket with zucchini one day soon, sauté them with you at the table!

  • In the 12 years I’ve gardened in my current home, I’ve harvested using the shallow round willow basket I also found on a sidewalk in my village. I move about in a wheelchair, and it nestles securely in my lap.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Previous Post
Onward and Upward!
Next Post
Goodbye Betsy, Halloo India ~