Because it was spring, Marilee decided to do one of her obsessive tears through the house—not a quick surface dust and sweep, but a deep dive, boring down beneath cushions and floor rugs, under tables and chairs, to clear out accumulated dust bunnies, cat toys, stray pens and lost coins. Her compulsion to clean next sent her out to neglected corners of the garden where matted collections of dried maple leaves and pine needles were lodged beneath hydrangeas, camellias and a few eager-to-please azalea bushes. Marilee traveled on, diligently filling the garden refuse can with nut grass, milkweed, dandelions that had reached frightening height and girth, fox tails that threatened to blind her spaniels, aggressive English ivy that clearly intended to overrun continents, choking the more innocent herbs and annual blossoms. Marilee was unstoppable! But then she came to the rosemary.
The rosemary hedge stood sentry between her yard and a public walkway. Wind had blown river birch leaves and laurel berries beneath the spikey branches and in Merilee’s determined state, that would not do. Down on her knees, her hands gloved in heavy suede with rubber finger tips, her arms draped in a frayed fleece jacket, she reached under each bush to grasp at leaves and weedy tendrils, using her forearm to sweep up the crumpled dust and mulch. She could not tell if the rosemary was grateful, confused, or annoyed by her ministrations but the bushes emitted a fragrance of spice and loam that filled Marilee’s nostril and throat, drawing her closer, pulling her down to glimpse an underground chamber of fairy folk, red lady bugs decorating their hair and encircling their wrists. Marilee gaped as they worked their spells with pen and ink on petal and leaf. They smiled at Marilee, handing her a small blue rosemary blossom, imprinted with a mighty word, a magical chant, a gift to take with her.
Marilee was satisfied now that the house and garden were in fine order, and she was ready to rest. She would forget her glimpse of the fairy world, but remember the word, beating in her temples, throat, and chest: Mystery Mystery Mystery.
Photo by Sorin Gheorghita on Unsplash