There goes the neighbourhood

“Mamaaa! Maaa-maaa! Maaaaa!” his thin, sharp cry carried through the screen door, sieved into mosquito sized pieces and scattered through twelve back yards. Deck doors clunked closed, but I was in my back garden listening to wind chimes, which I swear his sound waves agitated, and I wanted to be outside.chimes

“Darius!” his mother yelled. “Stop whining! Do you hear anyone else behaving like you? Just stop!”

I went inside and closed the door. I could still hear the caterwauling.  I wanted to invite them both over to listen to the chimes but I didn’t. Continue reading

All grown up

 

Deluge2

Miraculously, the May-June-July  monsoons did not prevent the cherries from ripening. Somehow they gleaned enough light and energy from the milky sun to turn into hundreds of juicy blisters ready to burst. They reddened within days and the annual race to pick and pit before the starlings and squirrels reaped the bounty was on.  Continue reading

Don’t sit under the apple tree

The ferry door clanged shut. Harry stood on the bow and let the wind dry his eyes as the vessel pushed away from the dock. Everything solid disappeared behind a wall of steel. Ahead he saw water fortified by saw-toothed mountains on the horizon.

“Lady, why did we have to come so far?” Continue reading

“Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs…”*

July 13, 2015

Dear Bertram,

Your petty putsch succeeded in exiling Harry and I where sending us to the gatehouse and 27 years of childish attempts to split us up did not, although the malicious introduction of Tulia came close. Yes, Harry finally confessed they met at the garden centre where you sent him for a non-existent species of earthworm for the vermi-beds. Well, brother-dear, you reap what you sow.

Continue reading

Mien – all mine.

PetuniasHarry squinted at the petunias Lady Smock had dropped on the patio table. He stood blinking like a forgotten turn signal, his serene mien disturbed by this flagrant floral bad judgement. Petunias at Smock Manor? What next – garden gnomes?

“Our war ensign, Harry. We’re going to plant them at the entrance to the estate. If dear, brother Bertram thinks I’m going to take exile to the Gatehouse without a fight, he’ll soon know the cut of my jib.” Continue reading

Gardening without gloves

From the first sip of tea on the second date, he knew Lady Smock was a gift from the heavens, the way she blew on the rouged surface as though extinguishing a bolide. His mind wandered to a conjugal bed where sleeping would be an afterthought. Well, a man can dream, can’t he? He blamed it on the invitation to dine on sausage rolls on their first date. Who could resist a woman who ate rich sausages hidden in buttery pastry and didn’t fret about the calorie consequences?

“What do you know about amending acidic soil, Harry?” Lady Smock’s left eyebrow rose, following her voice into a question mark.

Harry knew squat about gardening. He hated getting his hands dirty, afterwards scraping his nails clean, scrubbing grime from his dried finger pads. Gardening was a penance. Yes, he loved flowers but that’s why florists exist. But he’d read – “Poultry droppings are just the ticket”, he replied, not knowing her hen-house needed a good mucking out.

They left together, discussing pH balance and the risks of gardening without gloves.

Pour this pestilence into her ear

“Here’s your tea, luv.”  The down-beat of “luv”, sotto voce, his dead foliage voice, was the catalyst.

Harry was a polyglot. He spoke the language of flowers, communing with them as he trimmed and transplanted. Each plant elicited a unique coo, and a song. Spring was Ode to Joy. Fall was Mozart’s Requiem Mass  which he was humming as he placed the foxglove tea bedside.

The authority of reconstituted foxglove blooms revived Lady Smock. Her heart raced and she rose from bed, retrieved her gardening gloves and plunged them into soil damp with expectation.

Harry hummed his seedling song – Hallelujah!

Nonevent

Harry’s first heart attack was a nonevent. He found out about it when he went to the doctor to discuss his habit of gobbing and snorting Image result for snail trailswhich The Lady Smock found so distressing while they were gardening. Birdsong hushed and snail trails flooded when he spat with a guttural grunt. Spring was the worst. An allergy perhaps?

The capillaries around his sweet Lady’s nose blanched and her skin regained the perfection of youth when he told her. He knew then that she loved him.

“Nothing to worry about,” he said. It was quite minor, but still, gardening became bearable again.