Howards End revisited.

At the beginning of James Ivory’s wonderful film Howards End, a perfect adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel, Vanessa Redgrave walks through a beautiful cottage garden, it’s hers, no doubt, she’s so very much at ease, she’s contemplating everything with such devotion as if she wanted to soak it all in, as if these flowers, trees, and the mere grass she’s walking on were as essential as the oxygen in the very air she’s breathing in, she’s completely in her element, utterly invigorated—this scene is of no particular importance to the film, at first glance she might appear just as another elderly Victorian lady from another English period drama, her role is just a supporting one anyway, but to me, this scene is everything, to me, it’s the best scene of the entire film, however more significant the rest of the content is, it’s just so true a moment, there’s nothing better than to take a walk through your garden, paying a visit to all these plants you’ve known for years and years, watch them grow and bloom, branches, boughs, and trunks, leaves and blossoms, they all have your complete attention, every single one of them, and this attention is what takes away your every problem, some kind of gentlemen’s agreement, you care for us, we care for you—pacta sunt servanda, and on goes the hose.

Covered with ivy and confusion.

Why that is, I couldn’t tell you. Hence my confusion. I think, it all started with some ivy planted to cover some ground where nothing else would grow, the ivy, however, spread, beautifully even, and thankful as we are, we allowed it to spread further, and farther, it then started to climb up trees, our very old apple tree at first, then the cherry, then the plum, giving it an allure of a French country garden’s forgotten but very romantic corner, then, flattered by that French allure all that ivy was so beautifully insinuating, we couldn’t wait for the ivy reaching the pine, the catalpa, the maple, the other cherry tree, the walls, too, of course, the house, the, well, everything, so we started to grow our own ivy, which is actually easily done, just cut some, water it and wait for some roots to sprout, and now, die ich rief, die Geister, werd’ ich nun nicht los, luckily Goethe has a quotation at hand for any kind of situation, the spirits I had conjured up, now, they won’t let go of me, so, once again, I have to leave you with the awful truth of my life’s trials and tribulations, as our garden has been devoured by ivy, our house has semi-disappeared, some delivery people have difficulties finding it, that’s a true story, we actually helped DHL find an excuse, I hope you enjoy some schadenfreude every now and then…

A summer in the garden.


I’ve spent summers in all of the Mediterranean, and however beautiful it is, none of them compared to a summer in my parents’ garden, not even the sea, although, who am I kidding here, the sea, I do miss, but having breakfast in a hotel, lying on a beach or at a pool, next to people draping their labeled belongings around themselves like an Egyptian pharaoh in his tomb, clinging to their bank accounts, their status is on display 24/7, all year, over-symbolized, logomania in extremis, but no heaven lies ahead here, deadly sinners, all of them, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for logomaniacs to enter the kingdom of God, yes, I’m a Catholic, no thanks, that’s not for me, at least not this year. My Hermès beach towels are off duty, I couldn’t relax anyway, I have to trim something in that garden left to my mother’s devices, planned as an urban jungle, too many trees, too much ivy, too much of everything, lush, overly lush, beautifully lush, hydrangeas emerging from unindentifiable green masses, roses emerge everywhere from ivy, so richly blooming they look like a bouquet, but before I trim something, I’ll look out for some shade, under an apple tree, or the walnut tree, or whatever tree appears inviting…