My mother has built a soothing getaway within the perimeters of our residence: a humble—yet so heavenly—garden. The glass front door of the house always teases us into taking a stroll outside, as dusty palm trees sway to seasonal winds; so we wear our sandals and head out, never tired of that view.
In my mother’s garden, there’s a vast yard covered in patches of evergreen grass. Our stray cats—that we’ve fostered—find their way to the frostiest spot and nap the day away. They only awake upon the sight of my little brother, who feeds them every evening. (Funny story: when they see him opening the gate door, they run to him knowing he’s paying the delivery guy in exchange for their canned food.)
Adorning the walls of my house are assorted plants and trees, planted purposefully to conceal every inch of the yard from its white. The desert rose plant twirls over toward the light purple basil, which has invited everyone to its aromatic presence: the bees, the cats, and the curious humans.
My favorite tree is the Sapota, which has been a beautiful feature of the house for more than 25 years. It stands two stories tall, covering up my bedroom and bathroom windows, and I’m always comforted by its shade. They say the oval, brown fruit it produces every summer, the chikoo, is quite tasteful. I never mustered the courage to try it, though.
We have fountains that are so calming to the ear, adding more beauteous elements to the silence. Our recently-acquired gazebo is my favorite place to lounge in; when the days are nippy, I would grab a notepad and write until I heard Maghreb prayer call, which was cue for me to go inside. (I still head out after I pray at times, regardless of the humidity).
If I’m ever caught laughing in the garden, it’s either because a pink paper-like flower falling from the Bougainvillea managed to scare me (it’s happened too often, yet still alarms me), or because the sprinklers were about to go off on me while I was sitting on the grass.
Summer peaking in its 40-degree weather never stopped us from enjoying the evenings there; ironically, we even take our sizzling hot tea outside. I love how busy this place has kept me, with the tiny chores my mother would give me of either watering the reedy Poinciana or fixing the placement of the chairs.
She’s given us a park within our convenience, where we get to witness the seasons change, taking point of what bloomed and what has wilted in the heat. She’s given a blissful escapade to walk around in when we need the consoling embrace of trees. She’s given us a hidden garden to bury ourselves in when the days are too treacherous to withstand.
In my mother’s garden, I chase the clouds in my heart-patterned pajamas. In my mother’s garden, I question my ability to recreate such a hideaway in my future house. In my mother’s garden, I am at peace.