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Today’s Daily Post prompt: Absolute Beauty
We’ve all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do you agree? Is all beauty contingent on a subjective point of view?
Betty rocked in her chair on the front porch, her knitting idle in her lap. She surveyed her garden, smiling at the profusion of colour, the myriad shades of green and brown supporting the rainbow above. Rusty, her aging beagle, lay in a sleepy heap amongst the dandelions, not far from Kam, her Siamese kitten who was investigating a large patch of catnip plants.
Glancing up, Betty watched her neighbour’s garden. Myrtle was a demon for perfection. Her grass was mown in lines so straight Betty reckoned Myrtle secretly used a ruler to check behind her husband as he mowed. Every plant was staked upright, pruned symmetrically and Myrtle frequently wandered the flowerbeds and elegant pink paving brandishing a bottle of weed-killer in one hand, an aerosol of bug spray in the other. Woe betides any flora or fauna which chose to hang over a path or land on a flower in that garden.
Currently, Amy and David, Myrtle’s grandchildren were visiting. They sat on the lowest step of the front porch. That was it, just sitting. The previous month Amy had been taken with some very pretty pink snapdragons and spent a delighted five minutes poking her finger in and out of the ‘mouths’, oblivious to the odd bent stem and dislodged bloom. Whilst Amy was fighting ‘dragons’, David had wandered over to the apple tree, intrigued by the netting which hung suspended under the canopy. Little person curiosity got the better of him and he tugged surreptitiously on one corner of the net. This precipitated the collapse of the entire net – Myrtle later blamed Jim, her hubby, and his poor workmanship.
The resulting avalanche of apples landing, bouncing and rolling in every direction brought a peal of laughter from both kids, the pair haring after the delicious fallen bounty. Their joy lasted about two minutes. Alerted by the laughter Myrtle was out the front door and bellowing fit to burst their eardrums. When their mother, her daughter and only child, tried to intervene, Myrtle had rounded on her and banned the entire family from ever setting foot in the garden again. Clearly, her mood had mellowed somewhat, but those kids had evidently been told they could only go into the garden if they didn’t move a muscle. Myrtle’s prize blooms and prospective apples for jam were safe, beautiful and, for Betty, sterile, devoid of joy. She suspected the kids felt the same.
Her attention was returned to her wild expanse as the gate let out a tell-tale creak, the crazy tangle of ivy which submerged the willow arch over the path rustled suspiciously and Betty slipped into game mode.
“I could have sworn I heard something just then, Kam”
The kitten pricked a semi-interested ear, but Rusty sat up, tail wagging furiously. Betty waved him down with a silent gesture, whispering ‘wait for it old man’. Betty rose, tucked her knitting onto her seat and started down the steps with overly dramatic creeping movements.
“Hey, Rusty” she called, in a stage whisper they probably heard on the space station. The dog hurtled to her side and she only just grabbed his collar in time before he shot off to investigate. This time the rustling was accompanied by a giggle and a fierce ‘shhhh!’. Betty continued to stalk her intruders, Rusty dragging frantically at her hold, tongue lolling out and his eyes pleading. Betty gave in.
“You know, if there are intruders in my jungle, I think I ought to set the dogs on them!”
She released Rusty who lolloped off at a rate of knots you wouldn’t have believed at his age. He shot into the ivy, out the other side and let off a volley of ecstatic barks which were soon accompanied by shrieks of laughter. Her three grandchildren shot out of the bushes, draped in cobwebs, ivy and unidentified stains. Mattie reached Nana first, grabbing her around the waist, leaving perfect muddy hand-prints on Betty’s new summer frock. Dilly and Max followed in seconds, Rusty bouncing around the group hug in apoplectic delights.
“Well, what do you know; I have a garden full of munchkins”
It was a well-worn line and the children dived on it with glee.
“What are Munchkins, Nana?”
Later, after they’d spent the afternoon reading The Wizard of Oz under the entwined branches of Betty’s ancient apple and pear trees – she sometimes wondered if they would ever produce a papple – they went in for tea. Laying the table, Betty felt a tug on her apron. Looking round she found all three children gazing up at her, smiling, Dilly proffering a large, colourful bunch of daisies, dandelions and buttercups from the garden. Betty took them and spoke to Max.
“Go fetch my best vase, sweetie, the one on the dresser.”
As the happy quartet tucked into their meal, hungry from the fresh air, Betty smiled at the gorgeous centrepiece of gently wilting weeds. ‘Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder’ she thought.