The Mazda bumped and rolled painstakingly slow over the narrow, gravel driveway, the car rising over each large stone that protruded as if to ward off vehicles. "The rocks weren't so big last year," said the driver. But they seemed bigger and more forlorn now, like they molded together over the lonely winter. The car crept down the drive and around a bend, until its passengers could see the country home nestled in the middle of northern Wisconsin farm country.
A farm tractor and equipment lay strewn about, forgotten, not having been put to use for some time. Wild rose bushes climbed up a fence in the front of the house and the front yard was surrounded by a picket fence and gate. The grass was long and weeds grew up with it, but in this wild and untamed growth, there was a beauty. The grasses and bushes seemed to hug the house but not in a menacing, haunted way, blocking off light – rather in a veiled way as though possessing a secret, hiding a mystery.
The man opened the gate and turned the key in the front door lock. His girl followed behind. A smile broke across her face when they stepped inside, into the high ceilinged, open concept house with wood floors and large windows looking out over the land. The home was filled with things of its owners, revealing that the man’s parents lived here for a long time and came back occasionally. This was the boy’s home.
The two of them stood on the deck, looking at it all, him showing her things, their light talk mixed with quiet silence and silence mixed with awe. He gave her inexpensive wine to drink, but to them it was as full and rich as the moon in its fullness. All this could be his inheritance or his own for a price. One possible future opened up before their eyes, almost too bright to behold with a taste as sweet and intoxicating as the wine in their glasses. Would this beautiful, enchanting place be theirs one day? Was it what he wanted? Was it what she dreamed?
On Ivy Hollow, fields of grasses lay stretched around the house, woods loomed in the near distance, and fruit trees kept company in an orchard perched atop a hill. Light and shadow danced on the long grasses, which rustled in the wind and moved like waves in all various patterns.
He led her down to the enclosed garden, fenced round with ivy growing up the sides. As they approached, they could hear the door of the garden creaking on its broken hinge and banging softly against the fence in the wind. Inside was a tangled mess of wild growth – weeds, burrs and bushes in a frenzy to take over, while flowering plants pushed their white blossoming heads out of the growth to prove their faithfulness. How much work, how much sacrifice, would it take, the girl wondered, to restore this to its former beauty or to fashion it anew?
Youth and adulthood mingled in the man and his girl like the mix of all wild growth here. Was he a child looking back at time, or a man straining his eye to the horizon? Was she a girl frolicking in the fields of her imagination, or a writer with hands nurturing the land and raising up a new generation? Was he ready to commit to such responsibility and did he have what it would take?
Perhaps, it was questions like these, and more, that were the reason for their thoughtful silence on the ride home, when just the sound of the Mazda humming down the country highway could be heard, and the feeling of something too immense for words could be felt between them in the touch of his hand.