While Mr. Jefferson and I have our own truths about which occupation brings us the most delight (making music does it for me), we do agree that the earth and garden culture is certainly on a high level of delightfulness. That delightfulness can cause strain and pain. Sometimes the aching back, dripping sweat and tired muscles aren’t rewarded until bloom-time.
Now, at the end of April, the roses are bursting as the azaleas fade. The tiny baby peaches are straining to grow, and the plums are coming on strong. But there is trouble to fix. Our one hundred year old Magnolia tree has some problems. The aging huge grapefruit tree is in trouble and the large plant box below the kitchen window (my window) must be filled again. The pretty potato tree that used to bloom there for the past decade has committed suicide (I gave it everything it needed and it refused to go on—and I provided emotional and physical support, too).
So when my late mother-in-law wanted some action out of her family (mainly the daughter I’m married to) she would say, “You got to turn to.”
The back and forth dialogue was typical; we could have been in a grocery, a restaurant perusing the menu, or deciding which movie to see.
“ What do you envision there?”
“I want to open the window and see and smell beauty, not my band van.”
“So, are you thinking something like a rose tree or maybe a Japanese maple?”
“Let’s look at both, here’s the roses first.”
“Do you want a standard, a climber or a weeping?”
“ Let’s go down each aisle.”
Wow, I like this weeper, it will fill out nicely and the aroma is great.”
“It smells like an old lady’s perfume, yuk.”
“I like old lady’s perfume.”
“Look at this climber, it’s beautiful and it’s already full.”
“I thought you wanted a weeper.”
“Well I want a weeper that climbs.”
“Can’t have both.”
We agreed on her choice, loaded the cart, and then went off to talk to the expert about our poor sick grapefruit tree. Of course, I first had to play the expert and tell the expert that the tree was at least 30 years old and probably dying of old age. He said, “One of the original Naval orange trees is still going strong and it’s over 150 years old, nah, fruit trees can do well for 100 years. Your grapefruit tree needs this and some of that and plenty of this…if it’s not too late. Oh, and your old Magnolia tree needs the same thing only more of it…if it’s not too late.”
Well, that’s why he’s called the expert, so we loaded up our $200 worth of tree medicine and headed for home.
After planting the rose tree, the new potted plants,and preparing the ground around all the fruit trees and the Magnolia tree for the next day’s doctoring, we pulled a cork and relaxed.
She looked at me and said, “Wasn’t that a fun day?”
I once again thought of Mr. Jefferson.