Sunday, September 06, 2009

Good Communication

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A clear morning here on the mountain. The steam is rising gently from the trout pond but fat rainbows and brookies don't use alarm clocks to rise for breakfast. The fog is thick enough that it mutes the whiteness of the adjacent birches as it floats skyward. Life on the mountain is good even though Vermont was summerless in my mind, with 15 inches of rain in July and a spring that lasted until August. The past two weeks have been flawless and writing has taken a backburner to chores and plant sales.

I was at the nursery yesterday afternoon and two aging ladies drove in, parking a grey PT Cruiser by the chip pile. They walked as older ladies sometimes do, with a gait that suggests arthritis that older folks seem to either deny or talk/complain about. Farmer women complain less or not at all and others are split about 50-50. I have bad arthritis too so I can relate to it all. And yes, I complain freely!

The women made it to the shade house where I was standing by the table we use for check out. We are not sophisticated at Vermont Flower Farm and your check out experience is usually a quick "how are the kids" "who went to college", "sorry to hear your mom moved to a care facility", "so sorry to hear about your kitty". One woman looked straight at me and in the same tone my mother in law often used and asked "Is Karl ok? Why ain't you writing much?"

The world of the Internet has always fascinated me and it either does or doesn't fascinate older folks. This lady, clearly in her early 80's, had been snagged by the Internet and it was obviously a part of her communication network. The downside for me was that she apparently read this blog and was expressing her dissatisfaction with me. She didn't imply that I was lazy or busy, just made it clear that if you start something, it should continue and you shouldn't let people down. In a world of disappointment, she did not want to be disappointed.

"Yes, Karl is fine," I said, "but I got lashed out again for feeding him non-traditional dog food." (two little pieces of steak and the end of my maple walnut ice cream) "You did that before." she replied, as if to suggest I am a slow learned at Karl's expense. She was right. I finally managed to squeeze in a "Welcome to Vermont Flower Farm" but for the life of me I couldn't remember ever meeting her before.

I did my quick "where everything is located, what's on sale, let us know if you need help" presentation and as if I couldn't finish fast enough, she mangled the name "cimicifuga" and I lead the way to the lower shade house. Foolishly I tried to explain that in recent years the plant had been properly named "actaea" to which she replied that she couldn't say that name either and where were they.

I was hoping this would be easy while at the same time I was fearful that the price of the James Compton, or Pink Spike, or Hillside Black Beauty would get me into trouble. She volunteered that she and her friend had just returned from Maine and they had seen them in a group planting at the gardens in Boothbay. When I said that I loved Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens, knew the exact planting they had seen, and was actually going there this week, the ice was broken and we were almost best of gardening buddies. Almost. The woman bought an atropurpurea and her friend followed suit as if in garden competition with each other. They didn't seem to care about the price and already had checked out planting instructions before they arrived. I bagged up a different daylily root for each of them as a gift and suggested they compete with each other to verify gardening skills. I think I'll always remember those two as they walked with a little shoulder roll to the Cruiser, laboriously turned it around, and then drove away. I know they are special friends and I hope they return.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the sun has made it above the tamaracks and balsams and am I ever behind this morning. The picture up top is of a favorite of mine. A rattlesnake orchid that frequents the maple orchards here. The picture is from a year ago but Karl and I visited a couple patches this morning. See if you can find some where you live.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm: A website that makes sales for flowers and gift certificates year round. Great bare root sales at the farm for the next two days so if you have a minute, stop by. PT Cruisers accepted in the parking lot, good communication a "must".

Reception Center looking through Actaea atropurpurea
Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens
Boothbay, Maine

1 comment:

Jeff Branch said...

It has been unusually cool here in Alabama too. Any while we have not had an over abundance of rain, it has rained regularly which is a blessing. Usually when the heat kicks in, we go into a mini-drought situation. I need to cut the grass, but it rained yesterday and will do so today as well.