Find Me A Gardener
all else fails...
this point in time Id settle for Chauncey Gardiner,
the Peter Sellers character immortalized in the film Being
There. Chaunce, the intellectually challenged gardener,
was mistaken for a member of the aristocracy by one of its
own when he introduced himself as Chaunce the Gardener. Come
to think of it, as a gardener Chaunce was more than competent,
one up from the three weve hired and lost or fired in
the course of a year.
It may not be that Oaxacan jardineros as a class are
sub-par. Im convinced that to a man (havent yet
come across a señora jardinera) they are simply
more often than not well-intentioned untrained hard workers
who one day say I think from now on Ill be a gardener,
but if someone wants me to be another trade, Ill be
that too. I dont mean to be critical of the multi-facet
vocations of most Oaxacans as dictated by economic necessity.
Jorge (names have been changed to protect what innocent) was
recommended by one of the two major viveros in the
city as a fine, knowledgeable purveyor of the green who could
lay sod and plant and tend a garden. A resident of Tule as
others in his craft, Jorge took me to his abode and then by
way of reference to a nearby project hed just completed.
All seemed fine although in retrospect I ought to have been
suspect when in answer to my query, yes it looks beautiful
now, but you only just finished sodding and planting, and
its all flat, not on a steep hill like ours, he
retorted dont worry. I never squawked about
price because his was more than reasonable. So why when he
told me how much yocuela (river silt used as a base
for sodding) wed need and I answered that I think well
need more, did he insist that he knew best? As was his sample
obra Id seen the week before, our finished landscaping
initially seemed top notch
green and attractive, what
with my religious watering as directed by the maestro. Then
the brown patches began on the slopes where I suspected dirt
was deficient. Dont worry, once again I
heard, its normal, itll be fine. Hell
never know because he stopped returning my calls and was never
to be seen or heard from again, perhaps too busy quoting for
the maintenance contract of the gorgeous grounds in front
of the Tule Tree.
We happened upon Raül walking in the neighborhood with
weed-eater and young son Sam (aka Would it Be Okay if
I Lived with You Instead of With My Parents?) in tow.
Alas my unsung hero. He had gardeners tools and a family.
I was to learn in due course that being a family man isnt
always good if it means leaving the country to provide for
ones progeny et. al, and owning implements could mean
I get stuck with them like a reluctant pawnbroker.
Oaxacan gardeners are unique amongst most of their countrymen.
They dont always have answers to every question posed.
On the contrary, to a man, when presented with a problem they
dont immediately have a retort, but rather the rejoin
is Ill have to ask the engineer (meaning
the adviser employed by Dr. Innes Farm and Veterinary Supply
which begs the question as to how they can call
themselves jardineros if they cant identify ailments
or determine appropriate percentages when mixing concentrates
Raül was good while he lasted. Good within what I came
to accept was a yellow thumb trade. Go ahead and ask the engineer
than killing my foliage (Am I foreshadowing here?). He said
he found grubs in the sod, (although I still think its
a yearning for yocuela issue), showed up regularly,
sometimes with son Sam and sometimes with brother Bob, also
a gardener, first introduced to me as a painter. Upon being
asked for a painter, while identifying his sibling as a reliable
candidate, when the time came to get some walls and trim freshened,
both Bob and Raül did the job. Raül talked me into
buying his leaf blower when he was short of funds. God knows
I needed one, just to remind me that I didnt need one
because in Oaxaca, contrast Toronto, the leaves dont
turn color and fall thereby requiring a blower to clear them.
But I did need a weed-eater, so when Raül showed up at
the house requesting a loan of $200 pesos to help him with
his travel expense in getting to D.F., the first leg of his
voyage to Canada, his tool-of-the-trade seemed like appropriate
Raül had in January said that next month he was off to
Canada (Ontario, Saskatchewan or Quebec) to work the fields
(a program of the two governments for campesinos to help out
with planting and harvesting). When I told him that he must
be mistaken because all hed plant in February would
be snowballs, he was adamant. Of course it wasnt February,
so it came to pass one April morning that I acquired Raüls
weed-eater but lost a willing weeder.
I resented having a yardkeeper in the first place, frequently
arguing with Arlene that notwithstanding the size and slope
of our terra firma and now being 50 something with ailing
neck, back and knees, I could still get the job done (and
in the garden as well). So now was my chance, what with 2
gardeners lost and none in sight. Welcome a friend (now here
Im tempted to name names) with the highest of commendations
for his botanical whiz-kid to whom Ill refer as LEnfant
Sauvage (from the late sixties French film, translated as
The Wild Child). LES we called when required, but ought to
have done so less so. Twice he seemed as the others, though
needing more guidance which should have been a hint. I should
have known to not let Arlene have a young man around the house
while I was out of town. LES fertilized (the plants), and
fertilized and fertilized. When asked if the 2005 hurricane
season has caused any devastation in Oaxaca, I tell of Hurricane
LES. Cacti, succulents, regular plants and bushes; indoor
and outdoor; potted and in-ground, all have fallen to LES.
When Arlene told him to use Triple 17, she mistakenly
assumed that she didnt have to identify which flora
should and should not be fertilized or explain that she didnt
mean to use three times the maximum dosage of 17.
Never had it crossed my mind to ask a guest from Canada to
bring me a copy of the Farmers Almanac so Id know
when the harvests have concluded and I could expect the return
until next February.
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Machaya Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast ( http://www.oaxacadream.com
) boasts Oaxaca accommodations characterized by quaintness
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