Friday, July 3, 2009


After yoga class, i dawdle in front of the bulletin board, reading announcements as i put on my raincoat. Next to the bulletin board hangs a rack of cards and brochures advertising vision quests, massage, reiki, and music therapy.

And then my gardener's eye catches sight of a plain black-on-white card:
  • Gardening
  • Pruning
  • Reflexology
  • Hand Massage
  • Clear Spaces
Mel Long, 254-0339

I reach out and take all 12 cards and put them in my pocket.

I really do need to find someone to prune my crabapple trees.

Two years ago, i took photos of Mel Long ensconced in the bare branches of my pink crabapple tree, looking like an elf. Despite the chilly November weather, Mel spent two hours in--and i do mean "in"--each of my four trees. She really wanted those photos and called a couple of times to make sure i'd sent them to her friend's e-mail account since she herself didn't have one.

Just a year ago, i opened the Monday paper to read that Melinda Long, age 61, had died in a head-on collision Saturday afternoon.

"Right after Farmer's Market," i thought to myself, where Mel shared a booth and gave hand massages.

I finger the little stack of cards in my pocket and gaze at the now-empty, cleared space in the card rack.

So this is how death prunes away friends and acquaintances from the tree of my life.

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