A Lifetime From A Garden BenchMonday, April 19, 2010
It was about three today and the sun was halfway out in the garden. Rosemary was on the grass working on the flower beds and I was removing chickweed from the rose bed. I sat down on our metal bench (it is quite comfortable) and I called out to Rosemary to sit by me. She came and sat down. We looked at the garden from our vantage point and she told me, “That Abies pinsapo (a Spanish Fir) has to go but you can keep the Abies lasiocarpa (Arizona Cork-Bark Fir). The two trees are growing together and they represent a mistake I made in my past thinking that these “dwarf” trees would not grow. Grow they did. Looking at the garden I told Rosemary, “We have made some mistakes in the garden but that Acer griseum is not one of them. In many ways we were looking at the garden as if had been looking at our life together for 42 years. There have been ups and downs. But I would assert that they have been mostly ups.
The reason for our quiet reflection is that yesterday was my official birthday (the birth certificate one even though my real birthday, the hospital one occurred about a year before). Because my official birthday is on April 18 I can always remember Rosemary’s which is a day after. While like most husbands I tend to forget wedding anniversaries I never forget Rosemary’s birthday. Another advantage of the two close birthdays is that we go together to get our driver’s licenses when they expire. They did so we went together on Friday to get them.
As we sat we silently shared our life together through the garden, a garden we have tended since 1986. Since that date when Rosemary had her kitchen bed and her perennial sunny bed and I had my hosta bed and my rose bed we have come together to understand that the garden is a shared one and thus one. We have our little fights about some plants that we may have purchased in the past that have become aggressive and weed like. The bone of contention has been Rosemary’s Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ (Cow Parsley). It is a mass of lovely purple fernlike branches that divide, mitosis-like, so rapidly that soon our garden could be all purple.
They should have been moved to the back of the bed or simply removed completely about a month ago. Now, after moving they all collapse and it will take some time before they look good. So for the time being, even though it is our garden, the Anthriscus is hers!
But she gets back at me. As she works in the beds she brushes her legs on my rose canes and she gets her pants caught or her legs scratched. “I hate your roses!” she yells at me. I know better. Come June my roses, our roses, will be glorious and Rosemary will have a little smile of satisfaction.
You would think that a birthday would be a special day. In many ways our birthdays are special because of their simplicity. There is no way I could possibly convince Rosemary to eat out. She has become fussy about food as she becomes “mature” and she praises (very rare for her) my cooking. She likes to stay at home and for me to cook. The special menu today, her choice, was:
1. One can of no-name chicken and rice soup to which I added sliced green onions and red peppers. I always serve this favourite of Rosemary’s with the Argentine custom of offering freshly grated (and very good) Italian Parmesan.
2. A divided, one slice of Safeway bakery artisan sourdough bread, toasted with unsalted cultured butter.
3. President’s Choice Ruby Red Grapefruit Italian Soda.
I took the picture here (with a self-timer) sometime in the end of 1968 in our first apartment on Calle Herodoto in Mexico City. Behind us is the used English pram my mother found in the English daily so we could parade our Ale on Avenida de la Reforma.