Six months later, after a tremendous amount of labour and an exhausting pother of special events, Olivero Russo was retired. He put his highly polished shoes and impeccable suits away and strung out a hammock that hadn’t been used since the children lived at home, and beside it he put a stack of books that he’d been collecting for this day.
Two months later still, Olivero Russo had finished all the books and had a crimp in his back from laying in the hammock. He cast around for things to interest him and thought how Merida would have laughed and teased him for a lack of imagination, because everything was interesting. He glanced at the pots, still sitting in the corner. What would Merida have done?
Maybe gardening was the thing. Being in the fresh air and making things grow. He did a survey of his yard and calculated what he could do in the tiny spaces and under the shade of the towering umbrella cypresses. Then he tamped freshly dug soil and a plant with bright leaves into one of the clay pots and hung it in the porch. Perhaps the spirit of Merida would guide him.
His four daughters came and went with their herds, noisy and distracted.
“What are you finding to do, Papa?”
“You know, you have to keep yourself busy.”
“Oh, good, you’re digging up the garden. What are your plans?”
“Ambra! Get out of the manure pile! If you want to be a pig, we can arrange a bucket of scraps for your dinner!”
“Alexander, stop hitting your cousin!”
And so on.