We headed away from the house and before long we were behind the locust trees. Silas' gait was not slow, but meandering. He scanned the purple flowers all about him as we walked, and every now and then he'd stop and tenderly rub a petal between his fingers. After a while, we came to a dirt road, and across the road was a field, rows and rows, as far as I could see, of plowed furrows.
"Lucy and Ray Chomski will be planting their potatoes in the next week or so. Some of us are going over to help them."
Silas turned to the left and we walked along the road until we came to an intersection with another dirt road. The bluebonnets and the potato farm ended, and on the other side of the new dirt road, next to the potato rows, was a green field with thin grass-like stalks swaying gently in the breeze. "First season's wheat," Silas said. He nodded to the field in front of us and
added, "Rhubarb's going in there. I hate rhubarb."
And he made a sour face, and turned left.
When we could see the locusts in the far distance, Silas turned again and walked in their direction, not toward them, but not away from them, either. He continued scanning and touching his bluebonnets.
Suddenly, he stopped, stood up straight, inhaled deeply, and said, "Well, that about does it for the day!" And he walked so briskly back toward the house I had to scurry to keep up with him. He poked his head through the front door, called out, "Sallie, we're home!" and then he plopped himself into the rocking chair on the porch.
"Dinner's ready in a few minutes!" Sallie yelled back.
"You're done for the day?" I asked as I sat down next to Silas.
"But you didn't do anything."
"Why, I worked my field!" Silas exclaimed. "What in the world did you think I was doing out there?"
"Looked to me like you were just walking around," I said, taken aback once again by this old man.
"No," he corrected, and his voice was already gentling up again. He scratched his head, not because his scalp itched but because he was exasperated. "Let me see if I can explain this to you, Newbie. Some plants, you got to toil hard with them to make 'em do anything. Other plants don't need much toiling, but you got to give them lots of attention. A little petting, a lot of affection. That's what some plants thrive on.
"You don't prune a bluebonnet, Newbie. You just adore it. The trick is in knowing which plants need pruning, and which ones just need to be adored. Just like with people."
"And I can tell you this," he added after a minute. "Sometimes it's a heck of a lot easier to prune than it is to adore!"
excerpt from Dandelions in Paradise, by Kit Duncan