Mystery of the Mounds

March 14, 2009

Three mounds of black dirt sprouting droopy yellow flowers in a vacant lot. It’s raining and I almost don’t stop the car. But the sight is too incongruous in this expanse of green to pass up. The oddity warrants a photograph, I decide, and unsheathe my camera.

As I get close, freshly dug pet graves come to mind. I’ve dug my share over the years. The only time I saw my father sob came when we finished burying Queenie, our first Labrador retriever. I was a boy, and we were behind our house in Florida at the edge of an orange grove also long gone.

But why bury pets in this spot along a busy Portland street, and why more than one at the same time? Two mounds on my left are round and could be graves. The third on my right is too long and curved for my theory to add up.

I look up and a woman beneath an umbrella at a bus stop is staring at me. I start to put away my camera but walk slowly around the mounds.

And then I see them from the angle the guerilla gardener must have intended. I smile.