I was feeling a bit cruddy today, cancelled my meeting this morning and got someone to come in to work for me this afternoon. Combination of exhaustion and depression, always hard to know what comes first since one is a by-product of the other. Wrote a bit today, watched the last scene of The Wedding Singer on youtube and slept alot. Headed out for a walk this evening to get something sweet, or at least that was what was in my head, milkshake at The Roundel. The Roundel was closed so i walked around the block and back up to the grocery store on Penticton Street to get some berries, healthier choice. I cross the street and wave to the old and very short Italian man with the amazing garden. I comment on his garden as i always do when i see him. The conversation is longer this time, where am i from, he says i look Italian, i say Russian Jewish, he says that’s okay too. We exchange names. He is Aniello. He invites me in for some of his wine. I say another time, he said now is the time, or something like that. I hover around the front yard, hoping we were sitting outside. I feel anxious, not wanting to fend off yet another old guy wanting to grope me, not a cliche, just years of negative experience. I go in anyhow hoping for the best. I have some white wine, ask him about his wife, she is playing bingo. He offers me food, i say no, he persists with chocolate chiffon cream cake, i give in. Then he offers me a sandwich, i say no again, he persists, prosciutto and cheese on a portuguese bun, i say just a little sandwich, he laughs and makes me the sandwich. It feels nice to have someone that could be my dad, or my grandfather, feed me.
We talk about gardens, Italy, bocce, his trophies, his grandaughters, and then he shows me his garden, the garden i have admired from afar for 2 years. Walls of beans, tomatoes, 2 runs of figs, grapes, plum trees, a baby apricot, eggplants, asparagus, peppers, basil all walled by flowers, flowers everywhere. He then shows me a tree that he seems to feel particularly happy about, bordering on affectionate, the leaf looks like a camellia, but its a lemon tree, and there are two of them. I crack the leaf and i smell Italy, and i am filled with the memory of lying on a hammock under lemon trees in Ladsipoli a town just outside of Rome. We walk over to the kiwis, and i am commenting on how beautiful the vine is, he explains to me that kiwis, like most species, require a male and a female to bear fruit. The female is the curvy vine and the male is the straight vine. He follows with the example of him having short hair, me having long hair, he laughs. I ask him if i can bring some friends by and interview him for a project were doing with elders in the community on their gardens, he says of course, but that i should come by when his wife isn’t around. I’m suspicious, so i ask why, he says she doesn’t like summer, she’s only interested in the flowers, and i think a bit shy. He says i should warm her up when i walk past and i see her working out there, tell her how hard i think she works, and how beautiful her flowers are and would she mind if i took a photo some time. This will work he says, she just needs a little encouragement and then she’ll be fine. We chat a bit longer, he helps me with my Italian, and i say goodbye. I am glad that it stayed sweet, that it was just an older neighbour who was kind, generous and a bit lonely and wanted to spend some time with another neighbour who is also kind, generous and a bit lonely.