That first winter in their new house, they pored over seed catalogues and vegetable garden blogs. She had long dreamed of growing her own food and he joined in with enthusiasm. Early the next spring, they donned boots and got their hands dirty. His stamina came in handy to double dig the new beds, and he built trellis and a small greenhouse where she nurtured her seedlings.
The days lengthened. She planted and dreamed of serried rows of preserve jars, like her grandma had in the old pantry. Each jar held jewelled treasures of garnet red beetroot, opalescent baby onions with satellites of red and black peppercorns, or jade green tomato chutney concealing an unexpected hit of spice. Hard-won bounty stood guard against an uncertain winter and preserves meant security.
She hardly noticed ingrained dirt under her nails, so caught up in the promise of harvest that she fell exhausted into bed after long days weeding and grafting. She didn’t mind that he spent most of his time on his phone or at the computer even when the sun shone. They were a team, growing together.
The garden blossomed under her loving care. By the time the inevitable tomato and zucchini glut came around he was gone, in search of indoor pursuits with someone who cared about her manicure. She was left with far too much produce to eat alone or give away.
As the nights drew in again she stood over a hot stove, stirring and seasoning her pickles with salt tears and the bitter fruit of regret.