On my walk today I smelled sweet fern and it made me think of you, and that memory took me by surprise with its softness. Since we broke up I've tended to think of you as "the jackass," and to be honest, I've felt mostly dismay and regret about the fact that I dated you at all. But today as I walked along past the sweet fern I remember standing with you in a sandy field of scrub and sweet fern and all kinds of good things about you came back to me. Maybe you were a jackass, but you were a lot of other things, too.
You knew a lot about plants: you taught me the name of the sweet fern, rubbing it between your fingers so I could smell it. You taught me the name of pachysandra, too, and I remember how full of color and play your garden was. You hid small treasures in the garden and the woods -- you made tiny sculptures and hung them in the tree branches and I found sweet little ceramic coins you'd made among the birdhouses and the flowers. I remember you teaching me to shoot and the fun we had aiming at clay pigeons and targets. I remember racing along a woodsy path on mountain bikes with you, our dogs crashing along beside us, and playing soccer in that clearing. I remember how you cooked, marvelous peppery meat and fish, perfect salads, while I sat engrossed with a book. I remember the great granite fireplace you built and those wonderful kinetic metal sculptures you made, and how your house was full of flourishing plants. I remember speeding along country roads in your convertible, to that brown-green lake that smelled shady and fresh and felt so cool to swim in. I remember sailing with you on a slow light-air day, diving off the bow and floating gently back to the stern to climb back into the boat. I liked the way you could set the anchor from the stern.
We laughed a lot together, carelessly. You were fun. You live in a world full of playful beauty, sounds and smells and tastes and visions. Yes, there's a recklessness about you, and something else. But this letter isn't for finding fault with you. I know exactly why we aren't dating anymore. But over the last few years I've forgotten why we ever did. And today, the smell of sweet fern reminded me of some good reasons.
I'm sorry I've been cold to you. I hope you are well, and happy, and that your garden is flourishing.