23: Spring 2009

Author: Tim Brown

Rosa canina

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Rosa CaninaTim Brown

He had walked out on her. Almost six months to the day that they had taken a five year lease on the rundown farm cottage to which they had been attracted, mainly by the third of an acre garden, a wild, undulating sea of ground elder and nettles swaying against shipwrecked, decaying fruit trees. She had an instant vision of its potential, couldn’t wait to start but accepted that priorities lay in refurbishment. The property had been unoccupied for years and redecoration was an endless slog through late nights and weekends as they both worked full time. Now, just as she could turn her attention to outside he had gone. No clues initially, he had seemed distant of late which she had put down to tiredness, but gradually the realisation of pre-planning began to dawn, personal possessions had steadily vanished and his mail stopped abruptly, obviously redirected; a discreet call to his work revealed that he had given notice the previous month declining to give an explanation.

Although a committed organic gardener she had a burning desire to pour a gallon of ‘Roundup’ over him, the perfect remedy for deep rooted weeds but she vented her anger on the garden instead, working feverishly on clearing everything apart from the clump of dog roses, prettily contrasted against the tangle of neglect.

Although progress was slow she decided to make her first visit to the local garden centre/nursery which lay in the village a mile away, highly recommended by her neighbours who pointed out an adjoining short cut across farmland which would take her there in half the time. ‘Sod the budget’ she thought as she wandered ever slowly past the sumptuous range of perennials, shrubs and trees, endless treasure of temptation that rapidly filled the blank canvas she had held in her mind. No need to consult ‘Plant Finder’, it was all here… the biggest buzz since she was a teenager shopping for clothes at Zara in Regent Street.

The weeks of backache, broken nails, splinters, endless trips to the local tip and not least, being dumped suddenly seemed distant as she was captivated by the colours, contrasts and forms that tugged impatiently at her credit card. Logic snapped her back to reality, her inner voice saying what’s the hurry? Plenty of time for creativity -don’t spoil the dream. As she prepared to leave, passing the display of patio furniture, she saw him reclining on one of the chairs, handsome, gorgeous conker-coloured eyes. She smiled instinctively before turning her back on him, embarrassed by forgetting he was male (prune down to ground level, throw on compost heap).

On her regular visits to the centre he always seemed to be there, strolling round contentedly, but there was definite, deliberate eye contact as they passed by the peonies or crossed by the crocosmia. A natural reaction could have been a threat of being stalked with its attendant touch of menace but the opposite seemed to be the case, as she was drawn to those expressive eyes and quiet vulnerability. ‘For goodness sake get a grip girl, stick to Gardeners’ Weekly not Mills & Boon’, scolding herself for acting like a love sick teenager and mindful of the steady progress she had made over recent weeks.

She went home to mum’s for a fortnight’s objective therapy and on her return read in the local paper that the garden centre was holding a special evening event, barbecue, folk music, reduced prices etc. that very night. On impulse she decided to go. It was a warm June evening, well attended, in a friendly atmosphere. However she felt restless, distracted and certainly in no mood to buy the selection of acers she had in mind.

There was no sign of him, even the owners of the business were surprised that he hadn’t appeared; but as hard as she tried to convince herself that it was irrelevant she simply wanted to be in his company.

Dusk began to fall and she gratefully accepted the offer of a lift home. As they strolled through the gates she spotted him sitting in the bus stop across the road. Hurriedly apologising to her neighbour for her sudden change of mind she raced over to him. Taking the short cut homewards seemed irrelevant as she felt that reassuring warmth of trust and security. At the front door she invited him in; he paused gazing at her, eyes sparkling with anticipation. She gestured for him to go through to the kitchen but he turned towards the stairs.

She became flustered. ‘No not up there’ she said, suddenly realising that he wanted to sleep with her. It was far too soon; though she was torn by conflicting emotions she turned resolutely, cupping her hands round his face. ‘Look, you can stay, but you’ll have to sleep in a box by the kitchen stove’.

First published in the Staffordshire Group Newsletter 2007
and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 23
© Copyright for this article: Tim Brown

This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2009. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.

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