Saturday, March 8, 2014

#37 - The Garden Exposed - The Story

The Garden Exposed is a short sweet story about the relationship between Bartholomew and Geraldine the dog.  Like any classic relationship; Antony and Cleopatra, Luke and Laura, Linus and Sally or Kermit and Miss Piggy, Bartholomew and his pug end up having an effect on each other.  Geraldine's tendency to hump legs and objects has waned in the light of Bartholomew's attention.  Bartholomew's appreciation of life has increased by having to tend to another living being every day.  Yes, Bartholomew has Oliver, but Oliver is not open to change.  He assumes Bartholomew is not able to teach him anything.  But Oliver is a cat.

I often wonder the effect the people I am closest to have on me.  I want to be changed by those closest to me.  What is the point if we are not?  How does a best friend, someone you can't wait to talk with almost every day, changed how you see your day?  Often, when we are younger, we have more intense relationships with friends because our hormones are racing and we are thrown together into a schoolbox for most of the day.  When I was a teenager, my best friend was also named Mark.  We lived near each other, were in many classes together and hung out at each other's houses every day.  I was aware that we breathed the same air, shared the same thoughts and lived a life together.  Although we haven't seen each other in twenty years, it is obvious that I am who I am today because of him.

My daughter definitely is changing me, almost daily.  These changes are almost beyond comprehension for me they are so subtle and constant, like adding one more piece of paper to a stack everyday.  Now fifteen years later, I can't remember placing any particular piece of paper on the stack, but in front of me is a pile of paper that rises above my head.  Are we open to letting people change us?  It is hard.  We are so driven to achieve our own individual goals we don't always take the time to really know somebody and let them in.  Let someone in today.

Here is an excerpt from The Garden Exposed, to be published at The Book of Bartholomew on February 24:

For her part, Geraldine had become more content having a home with Bartholomew. With regular attention she has become less needy. It has been quite a remarkable change. Many of Bartholomew’s friends can’t believe the difference, and some of them still call her Hump-Pug. Bartholomew discourages this whenever he can.

For Bartholomew, having the little companion has been satisfying. The moment he saved her from falling out of the tree in his backyard, Bartholomew came to know a quiet and appreciative side of Geraldine. He also appreciates a pet that will spend time with him in the garden. Oliver is not interested in gardening.

For Oliver this dog has been an adjustment. He does not like sharing his “animal space” with another. He also is not happy with Bartholomew’s affections going elsewhere. But Oliver’s concerns have been mitigated because Bartholomew still does whatever his cat tells him and Hump-Pug (that is what Oliver still calls Geraldine) has not been intrusive. Geraldine is happy to have her own space and not go near Oliver (who is bigger than her and has claws.) All in all, Oliver and Geraldine have worked out their differences. This has pleased Bartholomew greatly because, at the moment, all of his friends are mad at each other and he has been left alone to tend the garden. His Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Josephine help at times, but they have been on a lot of weekend trips to their cabin.

The sun shone all summer and made the vegetables abundant. This really was the perfect spot to put a garden. Lots of sunshine, water from Mr. McBarden’s hose and near to Bartholomew’s home. The garden was his solace. His friends had come together over the garden, and the summer had been filled with many satisfying conversations while planting, weeding, harvesting and eating. Although the garden was now just his, Bartholomew was pleased with the outcome. His life was richer and healthier. What more could he ask for?

Geraldine, after running ahead of Bartholomew, would run back to him jump onto his leg with her front paws and then run away again; always taking off, always checking in. Sometimes she would chase away a snake or a squirrel. She liked to bark at birds and even the occasional large insect. When a large train would come by she would sometimes run away or sometimes defend her ground. But still, once in awhile, she would mount a log, a tree, a rake, a tomato cage, a telephone pole, etc.

“Oh, Geraldine,” said Bartholomew, “I’m so happy you’re here gardening with me. I miss my friends. I don’t know why they have to be so mad at each other.”

Normally, when Bartholomew talked to his cat Oliver, Oliver responded by sharing his wisdom and experience. Geraldine was different. When Bartholomew talked to her, she just looked at him with her tongue out and waited for him to say the word “food.” It quickly became apparent to Bartholomew that discussions with Geraldine are one way. He picked up a carrot and threw it. Geraldine gave chase. She took it in her mouth but, not liking the taste, very quickly dropped it and pranced back to Bartholomew. This time he picked up a stick and threw it. The stick landed near Mr. McBarden’s plot of vegetables. A brown blur of fur missed the stick and crashed through Mr. McBarden’s perimeter hedge. Bartholomew waited for the pug to return. She didn’t.

Bartholomew started this garden with the help of old Mr. McBarden, his neighbor. Although he was a bit cranky, Mr. McBarden had been helpful when dealing with property line issues and letting the gardeners use water from his house. When divvying up the plots, Mr. McBarden insisted on having the furthest plot and planting a hedge around it. He said the hedge would keep the vermin out. He seemed a little old and a little kooky so everyone let him have what he wanted. Bartholomew had seen his neighbor watering the garden and tending to his plot, but he had never peered over Mr. McBardon’s hedge to see what he was growing. And now Geraldine had disappeared behind the hedge.

“Geraldine, come!” commanded Bartholomew. No response.

“Geraldine! Come here, girl. C’mon!” Nothing.

Bartholomew began to worry a little bit, “Geraldine?”

Maybe she was just busy humping something in Mr. McBarden’s plot Bartholomew thought.

“Geraldine? C’mon. Come here.”

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