While Marie is adrift through the antipodes, weathering a stiff Cape Town winter with sweaters and the glow of twin fireplaces, I have inherited the care of our Harlem terrace and been granted the rank of Master Waterhose Handler.
I take my new responsibilities very seriously. True, it’s a bit like making Gilligan the captain. I don’t have the shoulders. When it comes to gardening, no shark here, I’m the minnow.
It goes all the way back to Antibes, France, circa 1974. My sister and I had been assigned the daily duty of watering our immense L-shaped garden. Of course having seen said garden decades later, I know that it was about the size of a shoe box. But as our main playground, it had grown in our juvenile minds to the proportions of a jungle-covered universe, no less. And really, as confirmed by Jules Verne, Robinson Crusoe and Tintin, we knew that the monsoon was likely dropping more than enough rain on the jungle and we should not have had to water. But orders were orders.
So we stood there at attention, the hose aimed at patches of thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, lavender, fence-covering ivy, irises and the mightier growth of roses, bay laurel and mimosa, and our minds drifted to southern latitudes and uncharted territories.
Funny how to this day, I still drift. As Harlem’s summer is melting the world around me, the thyme, echinacea, blueberries, roses, raspberries, lilies and many other strangers are leaning towards me and welcoming the deluge. And yet my mind is half-a-world away, soaring into the complex orographies of Table Mountain.
Once adrift, always adrift.