With it decided that the new house must have new landscaping at its front entrance-way, plans were made to see about choosing some landscaping plants to enhance the newly sodded front yard and the as yet non-embellished sidewalk leading from the driveway to the front porch.
Marion wanted to hire a landscaping firm to do the honors but Tim won that discussion. He would handle it himself and it would serve as a pleasant hobby and diversion, allowing him to work with his hands out-of-doors, hopefully without too much "coaching from the sidelines" from Marion! He could certainly use a break from the office as well as from performing "honey-do" chores on weekends at home! He didn't complain about them, but they'd all but crowded out all his other preferred hobbies, most of which involved ample outdoors time!
He knew he had good taste, a genuine green thumb and a "way with plants". He'd spent many a summer of his youth on his uncle's farm helping with the chores and developing a love for the land and for growing things which he'd never lose till his dying day. So he was fully confident that his venture with the front yard would please even his picky wife - possibly her even pickier mother!
So one Saturday soon after settling into the new home, Tim, who was a frustrated horticulturist at heart anyway, though a professional engineer by training and career, took his lads off to a nursery on a mission to acquire some suitable landscaping plants for both the new home's front entrance and yard and to scout for ideas for enhancing the large back area. This backyard area was accessible from the family room through large sliding glass patio doors leading onto the patio where they'd placed the umbrella table and its chairs. From this patio stretched an expansive pie-shaped yard, soon to be grassy and hopefully, landscaped. It had a potential for becoming an extension of the living area inside which was so perfect and inviting for having parties and get-togethers. Tim also visualized a vegetable garden out there, though that was probably in the distant future. It was a pleasant thought but for now he was focused on the front yard and quite excited about its possibilities!
It was a glorious sunny day and he decided to take the boys with him, since he had so few real opportunities to have them to himself on a "guy-only" mission. They were thrilled to get to go with Dad, especially little Sonny who was naturally quiet and had become even more so lately. So the chance to get out with Dad and do something that really interested him was a real treat. His eyes were sparkling as they neared the nursery!
By contrast, Junior was naturally outgoing and quite an active - direct-approach boy. He didn’t get too many chances at home to be rambunctious, but that was more his nature. He was also attracted to "doing" things. He'd long-since figured out how to avoid trouble, though and cultivated an easy going, pleasing disposition. He always seemed to know just the right thing to say or do and how to stay in good graces. But he hadn’t personally experienced the kind of consideration which lies behind natural gracious charm, which Tim actually had always taken for granted and in stride.
But Junior had experienced enough of his parents’ attention to value it and to know how to get it. So long as it was favorable, he had no reason to consider whether there could be more to good manners. His life was satisfying. He loved team sports and was a well-liked team member in the sports he played and an enthusiastic supporter of others. This came naturally and was a good outlet for his social skills, when he wasn’t walking the thin line to please his parents and occasionally, his grandparents.
Marion was over-protective and didn’t allow him to participate in the "dangerous" sports, but he rode his bicycle around the neighborhood and played and starred on his grade’s softball team at school. These were activities he would love for a lifetime, in fact. Tim was supportive of his eldest son's athletic ability. His academic and extracurricular accomplishments won him an honorable place both at school and in the family.
At the nursery when they arrived, Junior went off to examine the equipment and to admire the variety of types of shiny sprinklers and shovels. He liked plants just fine but his interest was more in the "how-to" aspects of gardening. There seemed to be an unending array of interesting gardening tools and accessories.
Sonny, now six years old, wandered off too, looking with fascination at the rows of tables laden with plants of all description, inhaling the fragrance of their new green leaves and in some cases, sniffing and even touching the velvety petals of their gorgeous colorful flowers. He glanced around to make sure no one was watching or about to censure him. But he was so thrilled thinking that any of these plants could be transplanted into fertile ground somewhere they would call home. His eyes were a shine with delight as he moved among them! He almost forgot to be worried about getting into trouble as he skipped from one row to the next.
There were seeds and seedlings, as well, packaged or presented invitingly, begging for love and attention from some seasoned gardener - or would-be gardener.
Sonny was fascinated. Never had he seen so many beautiful plants and young trees begging for his attention. He felt stirred by some primordial urge to rescue them - or at least one or two of them. He ran back to Dad to ask whether or not he could buy one to plant. "Please, please, Daddy - I NEEEED it!" He looked so earnest and sounded so urgent. Tim looked into his little face and his heart just melted.
Money still wasn't flush, especially after the purchase of the new house and furnishings, but it was certainly sufficient for the boy to buy himself a plant to place somewhere and learn to tend with tender, loving care. His thought about Sonny's being a rather withdrawn kid, despite his fresh sparkly blue eyes in a perfectly oval face and this sudden display of interest and enthusiasm seemed promising. Smiling and excited now as Sonny was with his whole face beaming, Tim was happy to tell him "of course - go pick one out for yourself!"
Off he skipped back to the tables and rows of glorious plants, thinking how this would require a lot of careful selecting. Not just any old plant would do! Not if he were going to prove to his parents and brother that he was bright and capable. He wanted to be sure he did the best job of tending it anyone could! Besides – the choice had to be right to satisfy something he was feeling deep inside. He wasn’t sure what that was, but it was urgent. His little heart was pounding. He needed it to be perfect. Little did he realize that a seed of creativity was beginning to bud in his little soul! All he knew was that he was going to get to select a plant, plant it and tend to it with tender loving care - all by himself!!
His mom was always cautioning him to be careful, to remove his shoes before he stepped into the house. He was wondering whether this perfection he wanted to produce would rate her favorable notice and approval. He felt that Dad would appreciate it when he had time to notice, but he was pretty busy working all the time or staying out of trouble with Mom so that he didn't always seem to really notice him unless it was after a fight with Junior when he was on the spot or some other infraction.
As for Junior, all he ever seemed to do was try to look good, show him up and grab any favorable attention and approval that was available for himself. Sonny couldn't really blame his big brother for wanting it. It was what he wanted for himself, too. He just wished Junior's good luck didn't have to be at HIS expense so often.
But at this precise moment - NOTHING could depress him!! No sirree!