I stood before them presuming my questions would be answered by the man and not the woman who was expressionless though I knew she was observing me quietly.
Indeed it was one of my mother’s attitudes that wandered uninvited into my perception of the situation.
He did after all answer the phone when I rang ‘Garden Care Landscape’.
In brief he’d said to come along for a chat so there I was in their kitchen, the hub of their business and home.
A novice in more ways than one in life I had this idea of a job outside in the fresh air with the aroma of freshly ground dirt and the pheromones of plants scenting the toil of my working day.
My expectations for my work experience for the next day saw me happily digging out bland bushes, cut throating weeds and rolling out carpets of new lean lawn.
Leaving the best for last I’d be planting flower seedlings knowing by the tags what sort of sweet flower they’d grow up to be.
Six o’clock start the next morning I was there sunscreen lathered wearing a hat and green dungarees with a long sleeved shirt.
I stood there imagining I could feel the healing vibes of the earth when I spied the woman who had not spoken much the day before coming up the garden path with a wheelbarrow loaded with garden implements.
Oh… I got it in a flash; she was the CEO, the laborer, the accounts department and courier service.
She was ‘Garden Care Landscape’ all in the one and he was the secretary and cook.
Her body was strong and Pilates lithe, I was in awe of her ambush and demolish thrust of the overgrown vegetable garden.
My task was to follow behind with the wheelbarrow gathering the amassed destruction of the gone to seed tomato, pumpkin, onions and carrots.
Her breakfast must have been a high energy sustaining blast not so my poor toast and coffee which offered far less oomph in my tank.
I knew I needed to up my speed and opened the throttle as far as it would go.
I so wanted to please this graceful Amazonian woman.
The sweat and dirt mingled a mosaic of earth and human stink on me and I was loving it.
Lunch time came mercifully; my body didn’t even know that it sat under the shade of a tree.
Neurons were still firing messages in bucket loads of urgency from the adrenalin surges of finding a new fifth gear.
She leaned back and ate the biggest salad on rye sandwich I think I’ve ever seen anyone consume.
“How am I doing?" I asked with a sense of pride thinking I was perhaps her Amazonian apprentice.
“We’ll talk at the end of the day when the job’s complete" she answered with a directness that gave no indication of the slide of her garden spade to good or to bad.
I was just starting to feel that my legs were standing down from high alert when it was time to get on with the garden affair again.
There was a patch stumbling with rocks which required each one to be removed.
Rocks which I likened to malformed basketballs on a dirt court under a full sun.
There we were these two amazing women hoiking up rocks like it was fun, the pioneer in my soul britches urging me on.
I counted my ratio of one rock ball to her three and as hard as I tried I just couldn’t match her tally.
Around 3.00 o’clock she announced that it was time to call it quits.
I was so tired that this news didn’t at first compute until I saw her packing up the truck with all the tools of our hard days work.
Leaning against the truck swigging on her water bottle she asked me “Tired?"
I nodded surprised by the grin that bounded across my face.
Then with a cool kindness and the stealth of a cheetah she told me before I could even attempt to reply that " You were good today but just too slow".
She needed someone with more speed.
Well that was that.
I limped to my car and drove home layered in earthy sweat not caring that I was a snail in a blue Mini Morris with a restored walnut dashboard.
Later in the shower with a hot wall of water massaging my ouch spots I had mixed feelings of a job well done even if I didn’t have the speed I was glad I’d given it a go and bloody hell was I going to be sore the next morning!
I reckon she’s still out there creating lush green masterpieces, she who demolishes garden beds like she’s shredding lettuce.
© K S Hardy 2011
It’s a short version of a long day many years ago….
And a longer read to get to the short heart of it.. ;O)