rare event for a jobbing gardener is an invitation into the kitchen.
Whether it's the fault of muddy boots or that slight agricultural odor,
the smell of earth and fresh air, I do not know. An electrician or a
television repair man, or the damn milkman can sit in a kitchen yarning on
for hours about nothing in particular. The gardener drinks his tea
on the back step, or if he is lucky in a well appointed garden shed.
Generally it is those in the upper income bracket who reach into the
bowels of the laboring class to find help with the botanical side of their
lives. The wife moans about this or that. The husband dials a
referred telephone number. A weekend appointment is settled
upon. The wife proceeds to describe her vision while the husband fidgets.
The gardening section of a news agent is consulted. Promises are
usually made. And after this intimacy the jobbing gardener retires
to a bar to make his calculations.
The jobbing gardener is an
independent character. Not for him the trade school, or carpentry, or
any relationship whatsoever with that record keeping demanded by
orderliness. His soul, in the polite understanding of it, is too
chaotic for that particular form of discipline. His mind is a sort of
soup in which occasionally a thought will form. He has no watch.
In short, he is carefree and happy.
I recall being deep inside a
shrubbery. My headache was such that I just had to lie down. I
could hear a Blackbird parent challenging my presence in what should have
been wilderness. The Blackbird in England can sound a little
like the American Robin. That startled, outraged call, a slightly
beady eye and a beak which usually has something in it.
I woke, wondered where I was, realized I was
being paid an hourly rate by the shrubbery owner. Briefly I thought of
concealing my afternoon activity. But, one damp morning, the owner of this
shrubbery had allowed me into her kitchen. She had
given my a newspaper to stand on while she made me a cup of tea.