Monday, June 20, 2016

Gifts left behind

This abundance of lavatera blossoms around our Saltspring Island birdbath came from one little plant our neighbour Kathy Robertson gave us a few years ago.

Kathy gave me this little pottery vase a few years ago, along with instructions on how to fill it properly. The roses are from my garden.

Kathy's house across the road from us has been bought and renovated, but most of her garden is intact. Here are some of her roses by her gate.

On one of my birthdays, my Saltspring Island artist friend Kathy Robertson gave me a little pottery vase and instructions on how to use it. "Walk around the garden and find interesting things," she said. "Not flowers, necessarily; think textures, colours, contrasts, similarities." She got the idea because whenever I went over to her place for tea, I would comment on the beautiful arrangements she made from bits and pieces of her garden -- leaves, grasses, flowers, seedpods. A born teacher, she wanted to show me how to do the same.

That little vase, which I filled Sunday with roses and fuzzy leaves, is just one of Kathy's many gifts to John and me over the 14 years she was our neighbour. Her skills as a painter, weaver, gardener and cook are on display all over our house: a purple woolen blanket, thick as a rug, that she wove; her painting of the weeping pear tree in my garden; cards made from her paintings; cookbooks and gardening books. She never had much money, but she always insisted on giving us gifts, properly wrapped, every Christmas and on every birthday.

I thought of her again when we arrived in Saltspring on Saturday. As we drove in, we were greeted by the biggest explosion of pink lavatera blossoms we had ever had in our garden. I had not done anything to deserve this, since I haven't even been to Saltspring since Christmas. But the single lavatera plant Kathy had given me a few years ago had survived drought, neglect, and drastic cutting back to multiply and provide this amazing display.

It made me think of how Kathy made and nurtured friendships all her life, scattering gifts and memories wherever she went. She died in August of 2014, but what she left behind is wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. How blessed you were to have such a friend! It's always the small thoughtful things that make the best gifts for sure. Plants do blossom and proliferate in the right conditions. Could be a metaphor for life.