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02 May 2011

My friend the landscape artist

by Rayla Noel

From my windowOn the terrain I live with
(pic R Noel)

Through a few careful conversations over the past weeks, Seth Joash (alias) and I got talking about gardens, yards and spaces around us. He lives way over the equator and can grow tulips if you please; apple blossom and daffodils, which got me talking about the view from my windows. Our new apartment overlooks 400 acres of land owned by the Army and left to grow as wall foliage, I imagine. After years of Travel and life in a developing county where bridges, flyovers, new construction replace forestry, this home is what we call a miracle. Shades of green, masses of sky, wide sunsets, sunrise mist...

"So. You have a big Garden?" he asked slowly. "I have three balconies. We have these...pots."I replied. "Right. What do you grow?"

I did not know their botanical names, or house names. "They heal me..." I offered, hearing him grin through the server.
"Describe them to me."
"Oh, in the forest out here, there's Gulmohar, there's a lavender tree..."
"No, your balcony."

I swallowed and began. What did I have to lose?

"Okay, I have Scarlet Fever, Fussy Green Spine, Omanese -Date- Babes, one orphaned Orchid, Two Crown-o-Thorns, Happy face Cacti, Chubby Ivy, One Christmas Tree cousin, two Lime Trees(ages 2yrs & 10..). Yesterday we bought home some Silver bells, Blue Eyes, more Scarlet Fever & one creeper..."
"Creeper have description?" He asked after an extremely careful pause.
"My Creeper is knee high with ten bright crimson blossoms blowing kisses into my warm May morning." (crimson kisses, I almost say, but refrain).

We trapeeze in space, unequal comrades in two different worlds. "I have work on my laptop." he says very, very slowly. "Could you finish that in the mail? Am happy to hear about your...er...local terrain." Strange how one can connect via satellite on a varied aspect like the environment. I wrote back...

"Dear Seth Joash, that new plant we got is actually not "silver bells". she is more a pale green summer dress flounce. maybe i should just take out my camera and send you pictures. Did I tell you, in my deepest spirit, the inner recess I have a quiet place. Today is my Quiet Day, my non thought day. Is that why we have trees, gardens, yards...y'know...spaces to go and just 'be'? Its beautiful outside. Still. Vi's (our eldest here) gone to Music school and full of joy. Kitsi is still waking - she had a very, very busy day yesterday with the neighbours planting rows of 'teenage trees'. Besides my Lime, there's Chikoo, Jack fruit, Mango. Our neighbour downstairs is layering the slope outside between here and the Forest; full of gusto, all too much for me to cope with. Then theres all these ladders to climb over our two tiered wall and down and everyone helping my ankles - I shook with embarassment!

Kit handles action so well. Joh and Noel are getting dressed for the day. Joh our youngest, (10 yrs old) thinks he's as grown as his Dad. Noel's the strong one, focused. Takes life in style; rides on it. He paints! Shall mail you a pic of the horses he's working on. Black stallion in red dust-tails...

There's birds today. Little red bellied, bibbed short beakers, sharp tails and rollerskates. What bird is that? Another sounds like blades in a row, in its throat. Then theres crane, parrots and crow pheasant. Fat bellied sparrow, white pigeons, squirrels, some chameleons, everybody's dogs, 2 definite snakes we spotted (bright yellow and fake brown), frogs in the night swearing shamelessly, cheesy mouthed mynas, and some other fur pantied pale brown long legged walky birds I do not know at all..."

Bye for now, hope you got something here? Will take pictures soon..."

After I mailed that letter I realised how deep one could walk into a garden. Wondered what Seth Joash would think of my homegrown names for what is, in my eyes a divine profession. A reply came in this morning. Thought to share.

"I love the names you have given your 'garden'. After a few initial puzzled moments I stopped trying to figure out what those plants were, choosing instead to be heartily content like a child accepting the mystique of a fairy tale.

Rain, come again. We need more of that in steady down-pours. England, notorious for 'brollie' weather, hasn't had a shower in more than a week. The signs are ominous. My potato crop will die if there is no precipitation tomorrow. The alternative of course is a rose can..."

Yeah. Strangers. Professionals and lesser humans, soil chat / everything transient. Change a norm we accept like the weather. Yet some things remain. Like crops dying, roses in a can somewhere I'll never see. Precipitation, alternatives - the habitat of species man, woman, child, bird, fourlegger and two, web foot and tuft head parrot.

Ah, what a world, what a world, what a world.



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