Before you read further I would just like to clarify that I have not run off to join the circus with my new GF.


Half a century ago I remember my pride at being Grandma's favorite gardener. It was an honor to be thought of that way.

I had a different favorite gardener.

He was the one who was hired to come in day or two per week to work for her. Grandpa was gone, lost to Parkinson's so using her meager funds from running the Salvation Army store where I worked starting at age six, she hired help.

His name was Noel, sounding like it was spelled Nole. He was instrumental in teaching me safe ways to hold on to a pair of pruners or grass shears. It was his patience mostly that inspired me. Later on in life I became a gardener myself, the new type, that can name all the plants in Latin, showing up to work with a truck and tools.

Noel didn't have his own stuff so he kept Grandma's tools honed, oiled, and hung properly on the wall near her pantry and wringer washer. Things have their place he taught and they work better when appreciated.

He was also one of the people who helped me learn that we're all the same, no matter what we look like. He listened with great interest as I noted that his palms were pink but the rest of him was very dark. We talked about it until I realized it wasn't much of a topic.

Some things just are and it's best to focus on other things.

We moved on in my schooling to how to be when in the presence of great beauty that needs nurturing. He also taught practical matters such as don't eat green plums, and technical matters such as how to cut back on the Iris leaves to make the flower bed look nice when the flower is spent.

That's where I learned to cut them into a nice fan shape. Kneeling down, I'd carefully snip them, my pet Garter Snake tucked safely under my baseball cap setting on my platinum crew cut.

I'd save the longer cut-off leaves and weave them into place mats for Grandma's picnic table where I'd have my lunch mid-day.

Despite my life long desire to have a bed of Bearded Iris, it never happened.

Yesterday a client who is moving told me I could have her Iris. I dropped by early this morning on my way in to work and dug them out with my long blade spade, always sharpened of course, easily cutting through the straggler roots, then put them in a black garbage bag. They are setting on my back seat right now, waiting to be transplanted in the morning.

My intention is to wait for a nice hot summer day. The flowers will be gone. I will trim them into fan shapes, then take the leaves and weave them into place mats.

Then, just like those times I will set there at the table with small tuna fish sandwiches, crusts included because I'm big enough now not to waste what I have.

Sipping some lemonade I'll think back to those summer days past, when Noel would be glad to see me, and I'd catch him up on my week and he'd leave me with some intangible truth that I would keep with me forever.


This is a re-post from Spring 2016.

The iris are in bloom and healthy, having come back very strong.

The 4 smaller photos are from this morning.,

Views: 399

Comment by alsoknownas on April 29, 2016 at 11:05am

The creek that runs below my office window feeds into the same drainage as the creek that was a block from Grandma's house.

It has just started to rain and by mid afternoon the creek will look like chocolate milk. Back then it meant I'd spend the hours reading, waiting for it to clear so I could run down there, get myself a crawdad to marvel at, tempting its claws with my nose, too close of course from  wanting to look into its bug eyes.

Comment by Rosigami on April 29, 2016 at 12:20pm

What a lovely- and beautifully nuanced- tale from your childhood.
The pictures are really nice, too. (Georgia O'Keeffe would approve, I think, without having to run off to join the circus!)
Bearded iris are some of my favorite flowers. We have a bed of purple ones, and some yellow. I'm glad you've got some of your own, now. 

Comment by alsoknownas on April 29, 2016 at 12:44pm
Thanks Rosi.

Geez...finally, a reader !
Thank you.

I did not know I was going to write it.
I was on my way to dig them out when the goofy punchline occurred to me.
I sat down, thought for a minute, then typed.
Comment by Phyllis on April 29, 2016 at 12:54pm

I have old fashioned purple iris in front of my house, given to me from the neighbor when he was reducing his bed. I didn't know about cutting the leaves back, I'm going to try that this year.

Comment by alsoknownas on April 29, 2016 at 1:01pm


 Thanks for reading and commenting. I got a clump of dark purple ones too. They will be nice to have.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on April 29, 2016 at 1:45pm

R&L For Grandma's who owned wringer washers.  Did she buy it out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog?

Comment by alsoknownas on April 29, 2016 at 1:49pm


Thanks for reading.

I don't know where she got it but that seems likely. That's the style anyway.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on April 29, 2016 at 1:54pm


Comment by tr ig on April 29, 2016 at 1:55pm

Dude you've come full circle. Now you're Grandpa, with bearded Iris, flowers fallen away like the platinum crewcut of youth, weaving leaves. Love ya man .. truly enjoyed this

Comment by alsoknownas on April 29, 2016 at 1:57pm


Thank you. Glad to put a smile on your face.


You need to be a member of Our Salon to add comments!

Join Our Salon



Posted by Jonathan Wolfman on October 19, 2018 at 1:39pm 5 Comments

Little Red Rooster

Posted by alsoknownas on October 19, 2018 at 9:04am 9 Comments

The Media and the Midterms

Posted by Ben Sen on October 18, 2018 at 9:30am 6 Comments

Not Since 1916...

Posted by Ron Powell on October 18, 2018 at 9:30am 8 Comments

A Feature, Not A Bug

Posted by Robert Young on October 18, 2018 at 8:51am 3 Comments

Hitman Jesus

Posted by Safe Bet's Amy on October 18, 2018 at 8:11am 0 Comments

© 2018   Created by lorianne.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service