One day last spring while we were in the backyard, something flew over our six-foot white vinyl privacy fence. It hadn’t arrived under its own steam, like a bird or an insect winging its airborne way; no, the trajectory of this dead weight deposit suggested that it had been propelled up and over with some force behind it. I was prepared to become privately infuriated (while acting merely annoyed in front of the kids) by someone throwing a banana peel or–heaven forfend–a doggie bag into our yard, but when Summerly went over to discover the identity of the fence-jumping item, it turned out to be two behemoth stalks of rosemary, bristling with thickset leather-skinned spicules, each stem as long and elegant as the quill of a peacock feather but bearing the unmistakably piquant and woodsy fragrance of the herb.
Well, this was something. I approached the fence to find one of our neighbor children, a little boy named Isaac whose company our kids enjoyed, peeking through the slats to watch how his homegrown gift would be received. We gushed over the rosemary, thanking him profusely, which I suppose sent the message that we were in the market to inherit clippings from his mother’s entire herb garden, and for the next ten minutes or so he made multiple trips to and from his house, launching sprig after sprig of aromatics over the fence. “Spearmint!” he called. “Chocolate mint! Thyme! Oregano!” and each time one of our kids thanked him and collected the greenery until we had quite a pile of herbs on the back porch. Reading into the message that was being delivered via flying plants, we invited Isaac into our yard to see our bunnies, who were running around in their outdoor enclosure. He seemed delighted by the entire scenario, perhaps because he’s a homeschooled only child at the near-end of a pandemic, and the gregariousness of our human threesome plus our rabbit threesome served to provide a novel change of setting.
He stayed until his mom came to fetch him for dinner, but before he went he asked me, “Would it be okay if I come over sometimes and knock on your door?” I said, “Thank you for asking, Isaac. Sure, that would be great. And if the kids can play, they’ll come out, and if they can’t, we’ll tell you it’s not a good time but we can try again soon.”
“Ok,” he said. “Just so you know, I like to check on my friends most days. Like every day or every two days, I just like to check on them to make sure they’re okay. Is that okay with you?”
Oh, sweet Isaac, surely you haven’t read “Hamlet” yet, seeing as though you’re only eight years old, but how fitting it is that the inception of this new friendship found its roots in a gift of rosemary and that the day concluded with your promise of attentive consistency, an oath of commitment. If checking on your friends every day or so just to see how they are is how you do friendship, that is definitely more than okay with me.