Sunday, April 10, 2016
These are two photographs from Nathalie Roze that have been laying about unframed for years. I will correct that mistake soon. They are lovely and must have a place. I am anxious to hang them.
I haven't anything of my own to post this morning because I am a working man. I spent yesterday digging dirt and hauling it in a wheelbarrow. I alternated that with hoeing a huge Asiatic jasmine bed that had been corrupted by another vine. The other vine has big, potato-like structures on its roots that are deep underground. If you don't get these, the vine grows back. And so I raked and hoed and dug deep into the bed with an almost maniacal pleasure, like rousting terrorists in your own home town.
It was a most perfect day, and as I worked, people would pass and tell me how lovely a day it was.
"Yes," I would say, "for lying around the pool with a drink with a drink in your hand."
But in truth, it was a perfect day for working outside, too, as it was cool and dry and there wasn't a chance of heatstroke. And so I worked through the day while Ili cleaned up the veranda, cutting vines and freeing the potted palms from their vegetable jailhouse. After about five hours of building cowboy muscle, Ili fixed some lunch and I drank half a gallon of Gatorade. Most people say they can't stand the stuff, but some people must like if for the grocery stores have shelves of the stuff. I could never have drunk that much water, so it was perfect.
After lunch, a trip to the nursery to buy something that would kill off the remaining roots of any weeds that might sully my freshly turned bed. Jesus. The two women working the counter were no help at all. Oh, I'm sure they were coolio outside the nursery with their shaved heads and nose rings and tats and all, but they were useless as vegetable advisors. And so, with a wink of an eye, I dismissed their ill-guided advice and Ili chose some perennials for the flower pots.
After that, all the work was out of me. We showered and headed to Grit City for an party in the large one acre garden of her landlords. It was a themed party. 1920s. All I had to approximate that was some seersucker pants. Ili matched me with a seersucker dress.
In her treehouse apartment that is so quiet and comfortable, I sat on the couch and read to the iTunes jazz station she had made, the doors and windows open to allow the cool breeze. As she prepared hors d'oeuvres, I read "Sleeping with Bad Boys: A Juicy Tell-All of New York in the 1950s and 1960s" by Alice Denham. The book is real good fun. I drank a Campari, vermouth and soda with lime to keep my head on straight, and the late afternoon drifted by as it should, gently and gorgeously. At dusk, we opened champagne and strolled downstairs to the garden with a plate full of cantaloupe and prosciutto and cheese bites on toothpicks.
We were definitely underdressed. Her landlords have been retired for twenty years and are fireplugs whose single goal in life, it seems, is to make it aesthetic. Their guests were done up in vintage clothing that was so real you could imagine yourself to have fallen back in time. The gardens and hors d'oeuvres and drinks were strategically placed around the grounds. The landlords favored gins and tonics, but our champagne went quickly. Speakers were discretely placed around the grounds and music from the '20s softly filled the air. I thought of my pitiful attempts of the afternoon, of how much work I still needed to do, of how much more it would take to emulate the gardens in which I sat.
Someone offered me a cigar. The night drifted away. . . .
This morning I look out at the half-finished digging that I know I must go out and finish today. I am missing the far county fair, missing the Goat Meat and Show competition, missing the Miss County Fair Beauty Pageant. But, for a would-be-cowboy, the work is never done. I've got cows to herd and bulls to brand and fences to mend. The day will be a carbon copy of the last, and tonight I will cook steaks for family and friends. It will be cool enough to have a fire in the fire pit just the way real cowboys do it. And so, while there are no new pictures being produced, I'm an old cowhand. . . .
And tomorrow. . . it is back to the factory.