Amongst the Old Man's many garden paraphernalia was a stack of unused flowerpot saucers. Made from really fine terracotta, I often thought they were destined for better things.
So on an April Sunday morning when I could not go running because of the storm, I decided it was a good day to summon the calling of these plates. I picked 3 of the best pieces from the stack, put on my rainy day music and started painting.
At first, the strokes were tentative, even clumsy and all over the place, never where I really wanted them to be. The harder I tried, the worse it became.
Then just as I was about to throw the plate against the wall, my favourite song came on and that made me smiled. Something wonderful happened with that smile for when I started painting again, my hand was steadier and though they were still far from perfect, I thought what I painted echoed the botanical prints on the opposite wall nicely. Even the 1st experiment didn't look so bad now and I kept all 3 plates to remind me of my virgin attempts at ceramic painting.
Things just kind of flowed into place after that. While I waited for the paint on the plates to dry, I started on the labels for all the glass jars of herbs and plants. I then arrange those jars on the respective shelves, smiling again as I spotted three of those jars which were special presents from my dear friend Ro.
Ro had bought them when she was in Kensington and she had sent them to me in a parcel via post.
In one of those jars, I store fresh basil, basil because I love her pesto pasta. In the other, I put the flower bundles for blooming tea. Yes, she loves tea too. Then mushrooms because I remember how thrilled she was one day while out harvesting wild mushrooms with her dad. Those jars I didn't label because how does one put a label on memories shared with friends?
The shelf space below Ro's jars is decorated with Old Man's amber glass bottles. There is also a half glazed amber vase into which I stuck some pink blossoms. More smiles.
The last thing I placed on that shelf between two of my plates was Teresa's clay jar , a traditional rustic jar from a set of four which were all handmade by her and which she had very generously gifted to me when I was in Spain visiting Eva.
By the time I stood back to look at what I had done, I was incapable of feeling anything but happy and satisfied. The last of Old Man's odds and ends, unified by their links to all things garden, neatly lined up. My shelves against his red wall, my imperfect paintings on his plates, the wild harvest in his jars. My memories, his keepsakes.
In that instant, I saw it, the fruition of our great collaboration, that of the Old Man and me.
I cannot explain the heightened emotional state that came over me after that. My eyes welled up and I started to tear. I thought of how far I have come in these past months working on this house, guided by the Old Man through his journals, passions, the house he had built. All the things I found myself doing, things I didn't think I was capable of.
It really is that simple, isn't it? If you try, you can and if you can, you will. The Old Man has pointed me to the right direction and now, it is up to me to see how far I can go. And I definitely intend to keep going further . There's no stopping me now.