Something unfinished.

She’s a temperamental one, he would say. This isn’t exactly what he would say, though. He would use a word that was impolite and sounded unkind, but he never meant it in an unkind way.

He would be talking about our their lemon tree (my her lemon tree), which was covered every January in delicate, fragrant, white blooms, but also (every January) dropping leaves and crawling with ants, again. It would be crawling with ants because it was covered in scale (again), so every January I she would carefully wash the leaves and stems, one by one, with soapy water. Again.

But I have never been she was never the one with the green thumb; that has been was always his gift, always. And so, though it was my her tree, my her project, under siege, he would stop what he was doing and start scraping scale, too, using his bare fingers to rub each leaf.

We They would work together in this way, bending over the ailing lemon tree until all the leaves and branches were clear. Then he would walk away to wash his hands, return with a pitcher of water and fill the pot to overflowing, drowning the ants. Then he would declare the job complete, note that tiny fruit seemed pretty solid. But still, he would say: She’s a temperamental bitch, isn’t she? And then he would go on with his own business.

Come spring, when the danger of frost had passed, he would carry that temperamental bitch of a lemon tree outdoors to live on our their porch. For the first few weeks I she would marvel about how nature’s predators were taking care of nature’s pests, knowing, every year, that he had secretly removed diseased leaves when I she wasn’t looking.

And then, every year, the nature of this particular tree would take its course, and he would say, again: Your lemon tree is losing its fruit.

By midsummer, every year, the few surviving buds that were going to set had set. Come late fall we they would watch the changing weather and cart the heavy pot back indoors before the first hard freeze. Every December, we they would have whatever we they had, whether two lemons or 12; and in January, things would start over again.

Then, two years ago, my her sister said: We left our lemon tree on the pool deck all winter (in Minnesota) because it was just too much trouble to bring it inside with everything else going on, and the tree survived!

So in the midst of the pandemic winter, having lived in too-close quarters for too long, we they argued over whether to bring that temperamental bitch inside, again, or just to leave her on the porch and let the chips fall where they may.

And she probably would have made it, that finicky Meyer lemon tree, even through the pandemic-fueled shirking of hard things, except for the once-in-a-century freak snowstorm with 10 straight days of sub-freezing temperatures.

In the spring, after we they were sure there would be no magic resurrection, he dumped her remains in the compost heap where she that lemon tree is now returning to the earth.

This post is 3/56 in a self-directed challenge to write something (SOMETHING) every day – a birthday gift to me from me, because writing gives me a place to put the clutter that lives in my head.