Reflections | Afternoon tea in Grandma’s garden

A small blonde dong sniffs a flower in the garden.

(Kassidy Usry)

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Green Living

At a small, quaint house in Athens, Georgia, I pull back a purple and green curtain and walk onto my grandmother’s porch. Plants everywhere. Gardening tools are scattered on a shelf.  Blanche, my grandma’s white cat, lounges in a wicker chair by the edge of the garden. It is cool and shaded here. I pet Blanche’s soft fur and she purrs loudly. Stray strands from her back come off and float through the air, reflecting in the sunlight that pours in through the screens. Her eyes squint and I can see green irises with shrunken pupils. The rays touch my skin and I feel warm.   

I head out of the porch into the green, lush landscape of her garden. Before long, the mosquitos arrive and bite my bare skin. Small red bumps begin to form on my legs, but I ignore them and walk along the stepping stones. My flip-flops smack against the hard stone and the hot ground. The grass and plants are damp with hose water, which drips off and sparkles like glitter in the bright sun.

Looking out a window at an old bike leaning against a brick wall.
My grandmother’s back porch on a sunny day. (Kassidy Usry)

I brush against a blueberry bush. The small blue fruits look tasty and ripe for picking. I take one off and bite into the dark purple flesh. Juice pours into my mouth, and I swallow the pulpy mixture. Next to this bush is an even bigger one with small pink and yellow flowers all over it in full bloom.

A small brown dog, Lucy, sits next to it and pants heavily. I hear her breathing and watch her sweet face taking in the warmth of the summer afternoon. Her pink tongue sticks out and she squints her eyes. I touch her soft fur and she leans into my caress. Her body feels small and delicate under my hand.

I walk up a path of pressed grass. I see colors everywhere. A large flower in bloom is a rich crimson color. Two bright red cardinals are perched above it on a wooden board fashioned for this exact purpose. The birds call out to each other. More bushes and trees cover the yard and I take in their striking green color. There is green all over. It permeates the scene.

A small Buddha statue sits in the garden.
Buddha statue. (Kassidy Usry)

I continue the path and see a birdbath underneath the trees. A small brown bird drinks from the shallow water and rests in the shade that the treetops provide. The path turns to dirt. The dry brown soil now sticks to my ankles. The dirt doesn’t provide the same cushion that the grass does.

A statue of a Buddha sits in the center of a clearing with gray cement benches forming a circle around him. I continue along the path and see chipmunks and squirrels running along the trees and through the bushes. I hear them rustling in the leaves. The white stripes on the backs of the chipmunks flash quickly before my eyes.

I make my way to a shed made of chipped and rotting wood. The blue paint on the outside has completely faded. I hear the rattle of dog collars and know that Tinkerbell and Gizmo are on their way outside to join Lucy. I walk down the path and toward the back porch to meet them. The porch has white metal chairs, a glass table, a sun-bleached umbrella, a rusty brown bike, and potted plants all around.  

A cat relaxes on a patio.
Lucky, my grandma’s gray tabby cat. (Kassidy Usry)

My grandma walks out of the back door of the house and sets down a tray with a teapot and cups. Then, my sister comes out, and we all sit at the table to drink the rich black tea. I pour cold white milk and cubes of sugar into mine and take a sip of the warm beverage. It tastes sweet and creamy. Two gray tabby cats lounge by our feet. It feels like heaven here.

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