Andrew gardens at the summer cottage of a family who lives in Syracuse, NY.
He worked in landscaping for many summers in high school and college and has the knack for gardening. His mom gardens too and she taught him a lot. He's handy--he knows what to do and how to do it, but he didn't really want to revert back to his high school summer job. And who can blame him?
When the economy turned sour last year right before he was about to graduate early from grad school, he made lemonade with life's lemons. Determined to stay busy and productive while he waited to find a job, he began landscaping. He mows an elderly lady's lawn, gardens in Portsmouth, and even works on a millionaire's yard sometimes! [We think that is so cool]. He is such a disciplined person and a really hard worker--maybe it'll rub off on me someday. I'm proud of his motivation, determination, skill, and accomplishments. I'm a little jealous of his sun-kissed skin, lean muscle mass, and endless hours of pondering life while working in a garden. And I'm thankful for the perks he's gotten us:D
The owners of the Cottage by the Bay (I just named their house-it seems fitting) visit a few times in the spring and then spend the entire month of August at the cottage. On their visit in May they invited us over to meet us in person. Okay, let's be honest, I tagged along. They wanted to meet the gardener, Andrew.
Miss Helpful planting impatiens at the cottage:
The family visited again in July and they invited us back for a 4th of July party where they praised Andrew for his hard work, green thumb, and horticultural achievements in the garden. They also fed us the most incredible food--wild grilled salmon, delectable steaks (and I don't even like steak), amazing homemade salsa, and fancy wine. [Note: the wine probably wasn't even that fancy, but they taught us about sniffing and wafting and tasting and aerating and savoring and that felt pretty fancy.] We learned to play Bocce ball, ate way too much food, and enjoyed a wonderful evening of conversation.
Before they headed back to New York for the winter, they invited us to a final hurrah party in August. It was such a fun and relaxing evening hanging out in the garden and listening to "real adults" (we don't count yet) talk about fine wines, fancy foods, traveling, and other interesting facts. They all have such incredible stories. We all do. One lady was from England, another from France, a few were professors at Harvard or other nearby universities, one gentleman brought his French horn with him and played it for us after dinner. It seemed surreal; almost like a movie or Europe, at the very least. People in America rarely sit around after dinner, in a garden, listening to someone play the horn, and relax. If for only one night, life was slow-paced and allowed to linger.
Our evenings at the Cottage on the Bay proved to be some of our summer highlights. I don't have much more of a story than that, but maybe that is the story. Maybe the story is not a funny moment or a harrowing event, but simply remembering that it's the simple, ordinary things in life that are life. That make up our stories; our life story. The food. The conversations. The gentle glances. The subtle laughter. The relationships. The thousands of little blessings each day. The small moments that often go overlooked are actually the memories. These are the things to file in your vault. And that should be enough.
And if that's not enough, maybe this is: A hibiscus the size of your head. The culmination of working hard and playing hard--pruning in spring, nurturing it throughout the summer, a little water, a little sun, and sit back and watch it blossom. Not even growing up in Florida have I seen a hibiscus so large! Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
Stopping to smell the hibiscus,