Thursday, August 19, 2004

Bountiful Fruit Trees

I woke up this morning beating myself up for the condition of the house and yard. I used to have someone to come and clean, but she told me so much about her personal problems that I couldn't take it and stopped hiring her. As for the gardner, he tried to maul me in my backyard next to my daughter's play house and tricycle. He explained that since his wife is dying of cancer, they don't have sex anymore, as if I would say "Okay then, come on in." I let my husband fire him so he knew not to try to come around again.

Since then, I've been a little gun shy about getting help. Every morning I wake up and resolve to call someone new, but by the afternoon I'm anxious about letting someone in my home or yard again, put it off, and work on cleaning instead of working like I should.

When we bought our home, the previous owner for two years didn't care for the home. The weeds were waist high. We've since cleaned up, but there's still much to be done.

This morning my doorbell rings, which is very unusual around this house. I'm not one for surprise visitors.

--I'm sorry to bother you. I used to live here. We lived here 20 years. I was wondering if I could visit my fruit trees.
-Of course. Sure.
--We moved to Oregon and we can't grow citrus there. We miss these trees very much. I notice that one orange tree is gone.
-Yes, it died last winter. We put in this rock path and the gardener trimmed it back too much.
--(picking a fruit blossom and sniffing it) If you trim back these rose bushes, they will bloom even more. And you can take out these small ones for the others to have more space. My husband planted me 50 more rose bushes at our new home. Do you love roses?
-Yes, but I'm not a great caretaker. I just deadheaded last week and already I'm behind. (There are about 30 bushes in the front, a few more on the side, and a handful in the back. Who has time for this?)
--Mmmm, you're doing fine. Don't be afraid to cut back things or take them out. Can I see inside the house?
-No, I'm sorry. My dog is in there and she doesn't like visitors. (Plus it's not in condition enough for visitors.) Would you like to see the backyard?
--Yes please.

I took her to the back and gave her several bags to collect fruit.
--Oh, the fig tree! We planted this after we first moved in. My husband misses it so. Do you love figs?
-No, but my mother does. We did trim the tree back as it was taking over the yard.
--It looks very good. Oh how I missed the figs. (Looking over at our dry yard where her rows of vegtable garden used to be.)
-Um yeah. We want to put in grass for our daughter, but we're going to be replacing the retaining wall, so we want to wait until that's done. Otherwise it will get wrecked by the workers.
--That's a very good idea.
-When we cleaned this out of the weeds from the last owner, I found strawberry plants underneath.
--They were imported strawberry plants, from far away, not from California.
-Every year a variety of artichokes grow back and give us more than we could ever eat. We don't give them any love, and they come back anyways.
--(Laughs) My sons planted those artichokes. It's all still so fertile back here. Can I have some lemons too?
-Sure. We have more than we can ever use. We make lemonade and use them in cooking, but both trees are always blooming.
--And do you love the apples?
-Yes. My daughter loves to eat the apples, and I've made apple pie with them (once).
--We used to have huge parties back here with hundreds of people from our church. My husband is 81 and he planted all these trees here because he wanted to live out his life here. I made him move to be near the kids. He will be so happy when I bring him back these fruits. Thank you so much.

We talked for awhile longer. She asked about my daughter and hoped that I would be blessed with a son soon. (I did not tell her I was pregnant!) I told her that the trees are still happy because they remember her love. I told her that I could feel her spirit in the house, and that it always felt happy. She asked of my origin, and I wanted to say Californian but I knew that's not what she meant. I told her Irish/German and she laughed and said she knew it. She said that she's Christian Palestinian which she said means that the Muslim Palestinians don't like her and the Israelis don't like her, so they moved here. All her 4 children and 16 grandchildren were born in America and she'll never leave. As she left, I told her she was welcome back anytime (and hoped to have my house clean by then so I could take her inside.)

I think I'll call someone today to help me get this place back in order. Afterall, we're not the only ones who love it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please live in San Francisco and please hire me to come take care of your garden. I promise I won't try to molest you in the backyard. Pleasepleaseplease! I like figs and make a mean lemon meringue!
Seriously, your garden sounds terrific and I love that it meant so much to the former owners.
Wavery from Bindweed Heights

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Paz, what a beautiful story!
I am so jealous of your figs. I have fig envy now.


3:57 PM  
Blogger Jen P said...

What a wonderful story. Where we rented as students the previous owners had done such a wonderful job with the fruit trees and gardens. We used to take them bagfulls of the fruits. Now I guess I understand why the old man would get so sentimental. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful tale.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What a lovely story. I sort of wonder if she wasn't some kind of guardian angel announcing the birth of your son ?:) O.k., I'm a little corny and always wonder about how people will just suddenly show up like that. Jealous of your fruit trees. All I've got is brown grass. Yeah, I could water it, but that would require effort.


6:22 PM  
Blogger sherry said...

What a lovely story!

Our home used to be the summer home of another family, and after we bought it, the kids sent us essays and letters and photos all with regards to the house. It just gave our home that much more character!

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