Melinda reports that it is May at last, and that it’s finally stopped raining—the sun is out, and the weather warm. On a Saturday, with her mom at work and her dad asleep, Melinda decides to garden, raking aside layers and layers of moldy, decomposing leaves from the bushes in her front yard. She notices that her house is the only one on the street without a perfect lawn. After an hour, she succeeds in removing all of the leaves, noting that Ms. Keene would be proud of her. She imagines seeing plants growing with their new access to the sun.
As the weather begins to thaw, so does Melinda. Her decision to do actual work symbolizes one of the first times that she has actually taken initiative within the novel. Although she can’t fix her family, she can at least fix their lawn. Of course, this passage is also significant because of Melinda’s close emotional connection to plants. As she herself begins to grow again, she imagines the plants growing as well.
Melinda’s father comes out and is impressed by her work. He tries to encourage her, but she doesn’t answer. They both look at the plants in the yard, and as a cloud covers the sun, Melinda shivers. He points out that the tree in their yard is sick, and will need to be taken care of. Melinda wishes that she’d stayed in the house, “stayed in my room. Stayed in my head.”
For a moment, it appears that Melinda and her father will actually have a positive interaction, but Melinda feels unable to do so. The change in the weather mirrors the change in her mood, once again emphasizing Melinda’s close connection to nature.
Her father offers to take her to the hardware store, but Melinda refuses—too many people for her taste. As he leaves, she imagines “rak[ing] the leaves out of my throat,” and asks him if he will buy some flower seeds.
Although Melinda cannot imagine actually going to a hardware store, she does manage to ask her father for something—a huge step, considering their usual lack of communication.