Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Little Humility Never Hurt Anyone

I took this photograph of my patio last week and after enjoying my windows open yesterday, I'm kinda bummed that we're back to snow today. Sigh. I'm over winter.

This is my favorite hang out spot with friends, wine glass in hand and a table of hors d'oeuvres to share. We enjoy lovely shade in spring and summer when the grape vines are full of leaves and in late summer marked with thousands of Concord grapes hanging in lovely bunches. I eat grapes morning, noon and night in summer and someone needs to convince my Pug Ozzy that grapes are toxic for dogs because he scarfs down the grapes that fall all summer long. I sweep and collect fallen grapes every morning, but he finds them. So far, I've not seen the effects of this grape toxicity in Ozzy - it's a losing battle with him, he's gonna eats grapes.

The honeysuckle on the side fence and the grapes attract lots of bees in late summer, but they don't bother me...much. I'm of the jump up from my chair and run variety when bees come too close. I've never understood how a person could sit still while a bee or wasp buzzes around them! I just can't handle bees, so I run. I was stung twice in my life by a couple of wasps and I don't want a repeat of that experience, thank you very much.


I must admit that my patio looks beautiful in winter, too. I wouldn't have photographed it if I hadn't seen something beautiful in the scene. But now, I'm over it!  I'm over winter. I'm ready for new growth, the variations of green that pop up on my gardening radar and the first plants of spring that show up when I least expect to see them. My elderly neighbor loves Farmer's Almanac and loves to tell me what's coming up with everything and what should already be here, as he says. He'll tell me when the next full moon and lunar eclipses will happen. When planting season comes around, my friend knows which vegetable to plant, when and next to what. My neighbor seems to know the stars and on summer evenings when we're sitting under the grape arbor, he'll say, "Come here, look at that," as he points to the heavens and we stand there, heads back, mouths wide open.  He's a wealth of natural information, I'd think and smile at how lucky I am to have him as a friend and neighbor.

When I met my 75 year old neighbor, I thought how cool it was that he knew all that stuff. I bought a Farmer's Almanac so that I could keep up with him. I remember one day when I surprised him with a nugget of information that I'd gleaned from the Almanac. He smiled at me and was quiet. How odd, I thought. Isn't he happy that now we have more things to talk about? We both love nature, gardening, flower and plants. Isn't he excited to have an eager student?

Then, it hit me and I donated the Farmer's Almanac to the local library. I'd taken away what had given my friend joy - informing me about the natural world he knows. My friend doesn't write, paint or take photographs. He was a much-loved dish washer at the Bob Evans in town before he retired. We'd found common ground in our love of gardening and that was what he wanted to share with me. His garden is beautiful and his knowledge is extensive. My neighbor helped me dig in my hydrangeas, perennials and annuals last spring and he takes great pride in our gardens :)

What a fool I'd been.  A well-meaning, eager student, but also a young fool (young to him) who'd forgotten about the wisdom gleaned through another's experiences in a long life. So, now I keep my mouth shut. I learn by listening and following his lead. I'm not one to steal anyone's thunder and I've always allowed my kids to learn by doing (well, most of the time!) and so, I'm looking forward to spring and digging up the side garden with my neighbor. I'm one lucky lady.

Still living, loving and learning in West Virginia.

Peace and love,
Ellie

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