January 12th


Photos courtesy Unsplash!


SOME roads, Mordochka, were made for taking you places, some for bringing you home, and others, like the narrow ones that wind through the small towns of England, hold tidy brick houses in their places. 

     On every front door in Dedham (that’s a small village in England) was a mail slot with a shiny brass flap to keep out the rain. Twice each day you could hear the mail fluttering to the floor and the flap clattering back into place. The mail fell into the front hall, which led to the front room, which led to the kitchen, which led to the back door, which led to the garden. You would love the gardens in England, Mordochka. Everywhere you look there’s something to dig up. 

     The back door of Westgate House was blue and led you to the garden where apple trees stood like nannies chatting and laugh- ing togetherall the while keeping a careful eye on the color of the peas, the height of the beans, the ripeness of the gooseberries—and Jane.

     Jane worked each day in the garden. You could tell by her hands. They were washed by the sun and tinted with the resin of the rich soil. In the spring she patted down the seeds, in the summer she plucked up weeds, and in the fall collected apples before the wind had a chance to claim them. Jane had dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, and the smile of one who spent her time tending to what is new and growing. Each day, she checked to see if anyone had bought something from the small wooden table that stood at the front of Westgate House. (People in England give their houses names. Isn’t that special?)  On the table was a carefully painted sign:

Fresh fruits and vegetables for Sale

     A good day would bring in £12 ($17), though some days she would sell nothing at all, which was always a bit discouraging. If no one had come, she would move the table to the side, out of the sun, and then tidy up the envelopes people used to send their money through the mail slot and on to the front hall floor. It was rare for money to be stolen. People often gave extra.

     By November, it would be time for Jane to add up the Garden Journal she kept each day. Soon would be the holidays. She would collect all the money she had made and take it to the bank where the clerk, recognizing her immediately, would say, “Well, well, Mrs. Davies where to this year?”

     When he had made all his calculations he would give her a bank draft and wish her well. This year, like last, the money would be sent to help orphans in Romania. She was quite sure there was enough to help 12, two more than last year. Nonetheless, feeling a bit apologetic, on her way out you could always hear her say, “It’s a pity it’s not a bit more. Still, it’s quite lovely, really, to be even a little needed.”

—Told to us by Jane.

Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 2.27.15 PM


 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - April 2022 §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com