Give or take fifteen minutes, 8am is rise and shine time here, most often signalled by the pitter thunk of four canine feet, followed by a paw on my arm, or what Sophie thinks is my arm. Then a long dark nose begins to push at the covers often accompanied by heavy breathing as the search for signs of life ensues. "Mom?? Mom, are you in there?" the furry beast wants to know. On this morning, I squeezed one eye open and cheered on by a bushy tail waving in frenzied joy, I glanced at the bedside clock. Two numbers swam in front of me in morning brightness, "57".
"Okay pups, it's time to get up." Four legs of glee and delight bounced all around me. Brief morning ablutions done and dressed for the day I sauntered out into a sun-filled kitchen, swung open the deck door and took in the air. It was a beautiful morning, a cool, fragrant, dewy morning. BUT it's only 7:09! It seems neither Sophie nor I is capable of telling time, at least not at first eye squint. And that's how I ended up in the garden before 8 this morning.
Out I went with trowel in hand to sit on the damp grass and play in the dirt. There is nothing like garden dirt -- dark, cool, clumpy yet yielding, just plain earthy. Just add flowers. And did you know that talking to the precious blooms, especially the pansies, elicits smiles and chuckles? Planting flowers can turn any frown upside down and turn any moaning into pure delight.Well it works for me, every time.
One day a long time ago when we were children, my Dad was out planting annuals in the back garden. He loved gardening, when he had the time to do it, and if he could amuse his three daughters at the same time, well that really was a red letter day. So on this one morning my sisters and I with noses pressed tight up against the bedroom window screen, watched Dad plant pansies. For our entertainment, he talked to his little plants in a voice not unlike that of the late Jonathan Winter's character, Maude Frickert. An old reedy, wheezy voice with a bit of a southern drawl wafted up to the window, "Well aren't you just a little cutie. Let's just get you set up right in here. Oh, such a sweetie. Now what about your other little friends here? They want a special place just like you. Oops, don't you worry about those little wormies. They're your friends too."
We hung on every word, suppressing giggles and jostling each other. What neither we nor Dad knew was that our neighbour, hidden by the fence, was also crouched down in her garden not two metres away from Dad. At some point she went to the fence to investigate the chatter. Dad kept right on talking to the flowers, "Oh look at you, such a pretty yellow dress." At some point I guess he must have felt her eyes burning into his back. We watched him ooze his head around to look over the fence. We saw the colour go out of his face. Then we heard a woman's voice say as sweetly and slowly as possible, "Well they are pretty aren't they?"
We slid from our places at the window, hands clutching our mouths, giggles bubbling up inside us. I don't think Dad ever talked to the flowers again but the legend lives on. It's a family heirloom.
Did I talk to my pansies this morning? Oh, indeed I did. We had a lovely chat surrounded by sunshine and warm earth (my nearest neighbour is more than 60 metres away).
I'm sure I heard Dad chuckling right along with me.
©2014 April Hoeller