A digression out of On The Knowing Of Cats;
He lets Dance direct him, pretending that he doesn’t already know where the man lives. He’s intrigued to learn about the place and its neighborhood through the younger man’s comments.
Dance does not give him the usual quick, careful glide into the front door to avoid nosy neighbors, in the kind of ingrained caution that gets trained into experienced younger gay guys by their elders, the survivors. Dance doesn’t seem to care if the neighbors might be watching him.
Instead, he’s passing through the front yard, running his hands over shapes, knowing where things are in the dark, pulling off the tips of herbs and holding them up for Drin to smell as Drin walks on the slower way up the sidewalk toward the porch light. The running commentary he hears is soft, offhand, as expert as Dance’s remarks about the symphony. It’s not a big house, nor a big yard, but Drin begins to understand that Dance commands the space with his spading fork in a thoroughly competent way that would drive off all but the dimmest of the local drug dealers.
It’s gawky and endearing when Dance can’t help but pause in the dim light of the front porch to exclaim over a new flower bud on a plant that Drin has never heard of, and to explain excitedly that he’s been waiting for two years to see if it came true to the rare color it was promised to be.
“Two years?” Drin says, blinking. Faith, he thinks, amazed all over again at his musician. Then Drin is simply forced to point at another plant that is even more bizarre and astonishing beyond it, eyebrow raised. “What is that?” he says, knowing exactly how this will set off the younger man.
It turns out the noble and intimidatingly huge sullen purple globes crowding into the front wall of the house are another rare plant, grown from divisions that Dance got from a fellow gardener in the Symphony’s charity organization. Dance is excited enough by Drin’s interest to gesture over it, to explain how he will be dividing it with two sets of pitchforks in the fall, so he can hand along more chunks of it to others. He laughs, a flash of white teeth, and says that’s a sweaty job, while he unlocks the front door. Drin is blinded by a vision of him bent over in the sun, frowning in concentration, grappling with all his muscles to master a plant nearly as big as he is. All that effort, to give it away.
“Of course,” Dance says, blinking. “Plants that grow well have no shortage. And we all want to pass it on, to make sure somebody else will keep it going, away from disasters like freeze or virus or bug pests. Very like copying scores correctly and pass them along, so if there’s an earthquake in Italy we all don’t lose everything written for the viola da gamba, say.”
“You’re very generous,” Drin says.
Dance looks at him under the porch light, blinking in surprise. “Well, not in the sense of giving away with no answer, because people will give us other things. More like trading. Like passing it forward, mentoring other people, making sure some of those modern composers get heard.”