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Four Years at the Mount

Junior year

Bundles of daffodils

Lydia Olsen
Class of 2016

(3/2015) Gavin sat in the living room, looked outside the window, and sighed. His mother looked up from her magazine and rolled her eyes, "Gavin, you are only grounded for a week. Stop acting like it is the end of the world." Gavin kept his fixation outside, knowing that arguing with mom would only make him become grounded for longer since it was what got him in trouble in the first place.

Gavinís house was situated in a beautiful neighborhood. The majority of the houses had young children or ones in their teenage years like Gavin. The house that sat directly across from Gavinís belonged to Mrs. Manson. Mrs. Manson was a woman in her late seventies with bleach white hair and tired looking eyes. She had been a widow since Gavin could remember and wasnít exactly the kind of neighbor you would go to if you were short one egg when making a cake. Mrs. Manson never seemed to go anywhere. Most days she could be found sitting in one of the two rockers on her front porch as she drank coffee and stared into the distance.

As Gavin looked out the window in his living room, he couldnít help but notice Mrs. Manson siting in her wooden chair, rocking back and forth. "Ugh!" Gavin sighed. "Even Mrs. Manson looks like sheís having more fun than me!" Gavinís mother laughed quietly and said, "Then I grant you permission to go and hang out with her." Gavin was taken back by his motherís response. Surely she must be joking! There was no way he was going to be hanging out with Mrs. Manson.

On day three of his grounded sentence, Gavin was walking back from his bus stop wishing he could go and hang out with his friends. He kicked pebbles across the sidewalk as he got closer to his house. Before turning the corner, Gavin looked across the street and noticed Mrs. Manson had migrated from her front porch into her front yard. He stopped and looked at her as she lowered herself to the ground and began pruning the bushes that lined her fence. Gavin was confused and wondered what would make her have such a desire, but his hand reached his front door knob and he turned his back as he went inside.

The next day, Gavin noticed Mrs. Manson working in her front yard once again. Surely, being grounded for so long was making Gavin lose his mind because he found his feet propelling him toward Mrs. Mansonís front gate. When he reached it, he stood there not knowing why he was there or what he wanted to say. After a moment or two, Mrs. Manson looked up and said, "Are you just going to watch me or are you going to help?" Gavin was surprised by her response but quickly grabbed some yard work tools and began helping Mrs. Manson clear out the leaves and old branches from her garden. The two worked in silence for a while. Slowly, Gavin found some courage and managed to ask Mrs. Manson why she was doing this. Mrs. Manson didnít stop to look up at Gavin but continued to work as she responded, "It is almost time for the daffodils to come up from the ground. We must make sure they have enough room."

After a couple of hours, Gavinís mother approached the gate of Mrs. Mansonís house. "Gavin itís time for dinner. You can come back and help Mrs. Manson tomorrow but you must come eat and do your school work now." Mrs. Manson nodded and Gavin put away his yard work tools before following his mother back to their house.

Gavin continued to stop at Mrs. Mansonís house every day to help her with the yard work. After the first occasion, the conversation between Gavin and Mrs. Manson seemed to improve on a daily basis. Gavin started to learn that daffodils were Mrs. Mansonís favorite flower and that her husband had lined their yard with them one year as a surprise.

By the time Gavin was done being grounded, he and Mrs. Manson had cleaned up both her front yard and her backyard. The flowerbeds were thoroughly raked and filled with enough nutrients to support flower growth. After Gavin gained his freedom back, he stopped going over Mrs. Mansonís but still noticed her sitting on her front porch and would wave as he walked to his house.

The daffodils grew slowly. First, their green sprouts pushed through the dirt, and then they reached toward the sky until their yellow blooms opened proudly. Much to Gavinís surprise, Mrs. Mansonís yard was not covered like she said it would be. Rather, random clutters lied here and there. Gavin was disappointed and went over to Mrs. Mansonís porch.

"Why arenít there more?" he asked. "I thought you said they used to cover your yard."

"They used to, but that was in the past. The frost must have gotten to them, or maybe it was the squirrels. I guess our work wasnít enough."

Gavin wasnít satisfied. He wanted her garden to be as beautiful as she had remembered it. He had his mother take him out to the store where he bought dozens of pots of flowers. When the weekend rolled around, he gathered all his friends from the neighborhood and they all headed over to Mrs. Mansonís yard carrying yellow bundles. They got to work digging and planting in the early hours of the morning and then headed back to Gavinís house. Gavin and his friends all huddled around the window in his living room and watched as Mrs. Manson opened her front door. She headed to her rocker with her coffee in hand and sat down before she realized. A smile broke across her face and tears of joy fell from her eyes.

Read other articles by Lydia Olsen