The best thing about having a garden is having an apple tree in that garden, especially one that carries Boskop as these are the best for baking apple cakes. They’re slightly sour which presents a nice contrast to the sweetness of the dough and wonderfully aromatic. We had lots, this year, and thus we had to make a lot of apple pies, and apple cakes, and apple tarts, and apple jalousies, and, well, you get the point, don’t you? What’s second best about having an apple tree in your garden is the fact that you really know every single apple growing on it is as organic and as healthy as it possibly gets. So, here’s to you, good old apple tree of mine!
I guess, when you’re a king, you won’t ever have to built a single castle in the air, instead you might even built them out of thin air. Just for fun, for a laugh, ha-ha-ha. To be fair, Frederick the Great built some of them, like the Neue Palais, for other reasons, for real statesmanly reasons like entertaining other kings or have a ball with diplomats, ambassadors, and such, but Sans Souci, he did built for nothing but pleasure. In winter, the joyfulness of it all might be less visible, but the architectural finesse of the ensemble is to be experienced at its very best.
I have never spent as much time in the garden as this year, a year, where temperatures started rising above 30 degrees Celsius in early spring, a year, where we had breakfast under the walnut tree before it had any leaves on it. Over my morning coffee, I witnessed every single step of a walnut’s circle of life, right now, I’d say the tree is seven months pregnant, the walnuts in their green peel are getting bigger every day. This year, I had rhododendrons in full bloom to my left when dipping a croissant in my morning coffee, and not the kitchen cupboard. I’ve been admiring the blossoms every single day from dusk till dawn, now I’m trying to ignore their decay when watering them, there are just to many to pick them off, it’s kind of a Sisyphean task, I constantly feel compelled to nonetheless as I’ve never been forced to water the rhododendrons on a daily basis before either, which is even more Sisyphean a task, I must admit. But a gardener’s work is never done, so we’re all kind of Sisyphean people, aren’t we? Yesterday, I restarted my eternal fight against snails by dispersing crushed eggshells, organic as hell a remedy, as they are the remains of our breakfast eggs, the shells are supposed to keep those little bastards from devouring our hostas. Over these last weeks, I’ve grown so accustomed to care for my plants every need, they now have breakfast before me, I started to carry my coffee mug with me when hosing them off with the spray gun in the morning, faking some morning dew. Or I tell them it’s raining. You see, plants believe anything you tell them, Sally Brown is my authority on this one, and many other things too, by the way—you do know Sally Brown, don’t you? She’s Charlie Brown’s sister, but if you don’t know him, I really cannot help you. But do try crushed eggshells.
It’s never been that hot. Never. For the first time ever, we did not find a single place in our garden that would offer some shade for our tea time. We were stranded. Heatstroked. Sunstroked. Roasted. Burnt. All dried out. All in all, we were desperate—until my father discovered a tiny spot under the ivy covered apple tree. Shade! We went nuts and decided to skip tea and prepone happy hour. A bar was improvised. Ice cubes were fetched. Lemonade was made. Shy beginnings, you know. Then gin was poured. Laughter got louder. People started singing. My mother got kissed by my father. It was heaven! And so I come up with one new maxim: summer can be heaven, if shade and drinks can be delivered. Mark my words!
The other night, I was binge-watching The Durrells, I couldn’t help myself, I just had to, I had fallen in love with their place by the sea, their entire living situation in Corfu is totally gorgeous, much more than the family itself, they’re really lovely but also quite odd, truth be told, I wouldn’t have watched the entire first series in a row if it hadn’t been for their garden, as a matter of fact, I’ve started wondering if our garden has the same effect on people, do they only come to visit for the oleanders in bloom, I would get that, I was most attracted by the ones in the Durrell’s garden, they were most beautiful, and do they endure our conversation over tea only for our hydrangeas, just as I was enduring Lawrence Durrell’s obnoxious love for his morning gown only for his family’s olive trees? Is our garden an escape for our friends where our presence is being tolerated just as long as we keep serving drinks, just as I was tolerating all this English eccentricity when escaping to Corfu last night, a place that’s actually Greek, not English? It’s hard to say, I guess. But I better keep the garden in shape, otherwise I’ll end up as a hermit.
So, there I was, stranded in our garden with my Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte and a cup of coffee, the cake on Spode, the coffee in IKEA, but with no place to have it—after all the rain, the gusting wind, and cold of these last autumn-like days the garden looked a bit dinged up, like it had been in the wars, leaves everywhere, all kind of leaves, some of them from trees that don’t even grow in our garden, branches from God knows where, and dirt in all places far and wide, the garden really was a bit under the weather, even now the sun had come back. But I don’t give in, never, and if I wanted to drink this coffee while it was hot, I did have only one option, just like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, to get along with the circumstances, however unpleasant, and have my Nachmittagskaffee in this utter mess.
But please don’t feel sorry for me, I’m already looking at the bright side of it. You see, after coping so successfully with this afternoon’s tribulation—the cake was really good, by the way—I’m pretty sure now that I can cope with everything the future will bring.