Several things came together yesterday. Problems have arisen regarding the re-build of my house. Knick-knacks littering the house seem to have multiplied themselves while I wasn’t looking, even though I’ve distributed armfuls via the freecycle network and kept only those of sentimental value. And there was the rather gorgeous rhododendron that my brother and his wife gave me when AJ died.
I decided to exorcise the frets caused by these niggles by some rough gardening. There’s nothing like lashing about with spade, clippers and pruning saw to banish frets. The rhodo was the obvious starting point. In spite of being nearly buried in the stinking liquefaction from the earthquakes, it has grown vibrantly red against the fence and will survive the bulldozer because it is well out of the way. (Stray thought: is liquefaction acidic? That would account for the vigour of the acid-loving rhodo.) But it is now too big to move, so it will have to be protected if/when I move out and others move in. Whatever else is tidied up around it by other hands after the demolition process, the rhodo must stand up and assert itself: whoa there, watch where you’re stepping.
I started with bricks: a circle around the base. What next? The pebbles! My other brother and his wife visited us years ago and we had made a trip to Birdling’s Flat, coming home clanking with pebbles. They were selected for their markings and colours, and with four of us bent double filling our pockets, we had lots of pebbles.
My brother took only a few back home, and the rest were heaped around a variety of potted shrubs back here. I painted some of the bigger, flattish stones and these lay around in odd places looking sheepish. Neither fish nor fowl, neither stone nor ornament, they just were. Now the problem of what to do with all the pebbles was solved. I scooped them into a bucket and tipped them into the circle made by the bricks.
The effect is, frankly, kitsch. Like a child’s tribute to the final resting pace of her beloved hamster but without the awww factor. There are indeed several places in this garden where bodies are buried: birds and mice, lizards, and yes, a couple of cats – but well out of the way and, I promise, none under the rhododendron. True, it is there in memory of AJ, but he is elsewhere, at the top of the port hills, looking over the ocean.