My neighbor curls the delicate features of her eighty-five-year-old face into a grimace and rubs her lithe arms to pantomime frustration with winter. Later she will grin, tilt her dainty nose to the heavens, and spread her arms wide to semaphore appreciation for a mild day. Perhaps she was a ballerina in the Azores. In the small rectangle behind our two houses my neighbor has labored, her granddaughter tells me, to replicate her island garden, here in New England. Tomato plants climb to the sun. A grape-laden pergola shades and feeds the three generations who sit chatting in heavy wooden chairs. My neighbor speaks little English and I, even less Portuguese. Still we communicate in gifts. Brown paper sacks full of grapes, the thick-skinned kind you have to spit the seeds out of. Ripe tomatoes passed hand to hand over the fence. Sidewalks cleared of snow.
Sarah Endo is a freelance writer and editor living in Massachusetts.