I never meant to have help in my yard on the weeding or trimming, even though it’s a big yard. In the first nine years I could do it all with my husband’s help and even more importantly my father’s. Yes, my parents lived with us here in California for ten years, and my father, the brilliant plantsman, who beyond his PhD in plant genetics always understood what a plant wanted, from the first shift of a cotyledon. That was a great time for all of us and all the plants.
I ran a homework group for many years and then daughter and myself took on tutoring of a couple of English as a second language students. This went on for years, and during it, one of the parents, who I’ll call Miguel, decided that he had to make the equation equal. So he’d turn up, and for the time in which we tutored his daughter, he’d burn through work that needed doing on the property like a man possessed. I thought I was a good worker, but he sure put me to shame.
But when his daughter graduated he still showed up, so I told him he had to accept pay or I wouldn’t let him work. That’s how I acquired help in the garden.
Last week he found something, and quietly left it at my door. A battered old gold watch with a broken wrist band. Dirt mashed into every crevice. I tried winding it and it sprang to life.
I know that watch. It’s the old broken banded one my father would carry about with him, (rather funny for of all the people I ever knew who disregarded time he is foremost.) Being a good New England farmer at heart he wouldn’t buy a new band, oh no. It was fine with him to simply lay it down among the weeds he was pulling, then perhaps have some trouble finding it again or forget it where it lay, picking it up a day or so later. That watch had adventures especially since my father weeded gardens all over the neighborhood for about half a mile in all directions. Anyone willing to smile back and let him have his way, would have free weeding and plant expertise. So it’s a miracle the watch ended up in our own yard, not mashed under a lawnmower somewere far away. It’s another that Miguel’s keen eye caught the gleam of gold among the roots and mud.
That watch lies ticking away on my kitchen counter now. I wound it a couple of days ago and it’s still keeping good time. Cheerful old battered thing with deep lines across its face, like an old friend. The last time my father weeded in my yard was in the autumn of 2006. You do the math.
Thank you Miguel.