Thursday, February 9, 2012
One Man's Garbage...
A trip to the trash bin got me in conversation with our landlord. He lords over the land, in the best sense, taking on a stewardship of the grounds. His name is Leigh (pronounced Lee) as in the 18th century poet, Leigh Hunt or as in Vivian Leigh. Leigh is one of those gender-neutral names. Even though most of the letters are silent, our Leigh has a booming voice that can rattle the dishes and probably registers on the Richter scale. The old English meaning of Leigh is meadow which is entirely appropriate.
His thumb is exceptionally green. He is happy planting and pruning in the garden which borders the building on three sides. We chatted alongside a flowering tree he identified as apricot. He said that a tenant, George D., back in the mid 80s, had a habit of throwing his pits and seeds in the earth, and this fruit tree is the result. Old George is now memorialized with white flowers in February, darling buds in May and orangey fruit in July. The branches angle sharply for the sun, obeying their own logic; the kind of tree-ness I most admire.
The garbage I was disposing was a bag of shreddings, rind, celery leafs, egg shells, fruit pits and melon seeds. An all-organic mulch if I had buried it, decomposing to nitrogen, sulfur and other plant nutrients. An entire Farmer’s Market could push its way through the earth. Maybe a rice paddie or sugar plantation will sprout by next year.
The truth is I’ve not planted much in my lifetime except three blossoming daughters and a bushel of words. But I can picture George furtively scattering his refuse in the flower bed 25 years ago ensuring his immortality.
George was a retired male carrier back then. I wonder if he scattered junk mail in the same way. No, not George. I remember him as my go-to guy when I needed some fix-it work. I’m glad to have him back still bearing fruit.
Since George’s apricot pit now graces us I would think that groves of bucolic greenery must be rising out of landfills. Yet my image of such dumps is of vultures wheeling overhead and impoverished families scavenging. On the other hand who knows what ancient garbage lies beneath the great farms and parks of our planet?
Leigh is still out there tending his garden to the ovation of hummingbirds who regularly sip at his buffet of assorted nectar from azaleas to zinnias. Red lanterns will soon emerge on the coral tree and I can almost hear daffodils bursting their bulbs to trumpet the Spring. I leave the rest to George.