Winter in New Orleans is wet, dry, chilly then mild, which jukes gardens into blooming. Pink and rose camellias, tulip trees, sweet olive, anxious to released from winter prison. They’re so pretty. Only one of our four citrus trees has blossomed. The heavenly smell of orange flower!  They’re never in synch. Pinkish red Cara Cara Navel Oranges. Loose skinned Satsumas. Meyer Lemons. My neighbor had made us a chiffon pie, dense with condensed milk. She froze the lemon juice she didn’t use. That pie was tart and luscious. We vanquished it!

Across the street, Malcolm’s letter hedges explode with green growth and cheerful weeds. They spell C I T Y P A R K. For sixteen years, he’s tended to them, waving off paid groundskeepers. I watch him from the front porch, back in action with his boots and his trimmer, sidestepping bees and combating fire ant mounds with powder. When he’s finished, I jet spray tiny boxwood leaves off his legs, and zap mud lodged in the bottom of his shoes so he won’t leave tracks. We watch young parents place their toddler in the A. He jumps around, delighted, then freaks out and breaks through the bar. “Jesus!” Malcolm says. “It’ll grow back,” I say. “In eighty years,” he says.            

When Malcolm and I walk, we lift our feet, like marching, over buckling sidewalks, cracked pavement. The roots of live oaks are shallow and run as wide as the crown.

A few months ago, winds blew a maple tree onto our sidewalk. It used to guard the corner, throw shade. The emptied space is a fresh chance. All we’re missing in the citrus parade is a lime tree.

“Floaters” http://ninatempleart.com/collections/124222

Ink on cold pressed water color paper

“20 x “30