Tuesday, July 10, 2012
This is a story about the ugly side of people and gardens. I write a lot about the beautiful things, the lessons learned in the garden and the creative reflection and space. This is not a story like that. This is a story my partner, AdRi and I often only tell in person, and I realize I haven’t written about it here before. It’s a doozy. It's also chock full of profanity. So here you go…
“What?! I rang the fucking doorbell” she said, clippers in hand standing in the middle of our front yard flowerbed. My partner AdRi had been sleeping that morning since she was working nights at the time, and had awoken to the sound of the doorbell. Squinting in the summer sun, standing on the front porch, she was still half asleep, trying to figure out what she was seeing and why this woman was in our front garden. And why this woman seemed to have such an attitude. The woman kept clipping, indignant to the homeowner watching her. “I don’t care if you ring my doorbell, what are you doing cutting my flowers?” AdRi said. The woman huffed and puffed, gathering her things and grumbling while she packed up. Her bucket of newly picked flowers, fresh from our yard, swung in her hands as she put it in her van parked out on the street. Off she went, attitude and all. Now awake, AdRi couldn’t believe what she had seen. A woman picking flowers in our front yard who seemed to think that by ringing our doorbell she had permission to pick herself a bouquet, or two or three.
Our neighbor Dennis told us a story in the weeks following this encounter. “You’re not supposed to be over there” he had told the woman picking flowers in our front yard. “Why don’t you mind your fucking business?” she said to him. Lovely. But Dennis didn’t back down. He knew we weren’t home, and he didn’t recognize this lady and her van parked on the street. Dennis was a long time North Portlander and he didn't take shit from anyone. He sauntered across the street and told her to leave. She quickly explained she had permission and that they were for a party and she had to have them. He told her he didn’t believe her. When we heard this, we only liked neighbor Dennis about 100x more. Damn right she didn’t have permission. And lucky for us, Dennis chased her off by writing down her license plate. She took off in a hurry.
When we heard that she was a regular in our garden, stealing flowers willy nilly, we were steaming. I should rephrase that. I was steaming. So much work, seed, care and love went into growing those flowers. Flowers I could hardly bare to cut myself for bouquets, were being stolen by a flower thief, and a rude one at that. These were the salad days of our early homeownership, and gardening was expensive and full of trial and error. I couldn't believe someone would invade our space like this and steal our flowers. I posted the license plate on a bulletin board in the house, cursing it whenever I caught sight of it.
A few weeks passed and AdRi called me on her cell phone. She wasn't sure, but she thought she might be actually driving behind the flower thief’s van and wanted to confirm the license plate. I rushed to the bulletin board and pulled down the number. Indeed, AdRi was behind the van. What should she do? “FOLLOW HER” I yelled into the phone, excited and nervous and feeling vindictive. Pulling into the Safeway parking lot, AdRi parked next to the flower thief. They both got out of their cars at the same time. Flower thief eyed AdRi and recognized her from their encounter in our front yard. She tried to avoid eye contact and scoot quickly into the store. AdRi wasn't slow and stepped in front of her. “Don’t you ever set foot on my property again” AdRi told her, sternly, loudly, and pointing a very direct finger right in the flower thief’s face. Flustered by the confrontation, flower thief didn’t know what to say. There may have been other words exchanged, tempers high and blood pressure pumping: the story gets fuzzy here since it happened over ten years ago.
When AdRi returned home I couldn’t believe she had come face to face with the flower thief from our garden. And she couldn't believe she had confronted her.
And she was never to be seen from again. Flower thief! Rude!