Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rambling with Rosie

Rosie Evans, a visiting hypnotherapist from Bristol, joined me in the garden on October 19th last year. She grew up in an idyllic small English village in the Cotswolds and recalls with great fondness her free roaming childhood wandering the ancient barrows. Her father kept bees and was an amateur lepidopterist. Nature was a big part of the curriculum at school too. “We were always sent out collecting things in nature,” she says. She and her classmates read The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Wind in the Willows and other classic stories that personified nature. Rosie laments that personification these days has fallen out of style, but she believes that it is one of the most effective ways of creating in children a connection to nature

Although Rosie lived in Montreal for six year before returning to England in 1974, she never visited the Botanical Garden. Today we ramble through the many themed gardens and she is astonished by the diversity of plants that grow in our northern climate.

Rosie is especially drawn to the Amerindian garden. They have recently erected a tepee and we both crawl in through the flap opening. On our way out, Rosie’s hair gets caught on a piece of Velcro and we have to yank her hair to free her. This is something aboriginal people certainly never had to contend with. I leave Rosie in the Amerindian garden to write while I head to the Japanese Garden, which is just on the other side of a row of trees.

Rosie wrote these lines about the larch that she is standing in front of in the above photo.

Golden branched larch leaning

To a shaft of autumn sun

For a moment

Between summer and winter

The year’s spirit escaping with the falling needles

Soft, soft, silence…

Lotus ladies lolling in
Wilted soft crepe dresses.

And finally, she wrote this poem inspired by the huge standing rolls of burlap that we glimpsed earlier in the day.

Garden Servants

Trolls, monsters, lurching mummies, looming

winter warmers.

Leaning like lazy drunk companions

across the fence

Waiting while the days shorten and cool

To spread their soft protective fleece

around the sleeping plants

They are the unsung servants of the garden.

In the Soan

I’ve come to the garden today with my new friend Rosie Evans, who is visiting Montreal from Bristol, England. Rosie has chosen the Amerindian Garden to write in, while I’m in my old haunt, the little wooden soan, which looks out over the pond in the Japanese Garden. On the wall behind me, a small plaque explains that the soan is “a modest shelter set apart from city noises, where poets and others would retire to regain contact with nature.

I sit looking toward the pond, which has been drained for winter. The sun has some warmth, but I am wearing gloves today. It is the season of impermanence, the yellow leaves getting ready to fall. Only a few clumps of chrysanthemums and asters are still in bloom.

were we to meet

only for a brief time

too short

too short

this summer of love

the leaves

are falling, scattering

in the breeze

I know I must give him

a long leash


he’ll be back

I’ll just let him be

and wait

for the last leaves to fall

I don’t

deny it

there’s greed

in how much

I desired him

I clung to him

like a leaf to the maple

now I let go--

not him but the wind

that sets me adrift


and faith

that he’ll return

the cat too ran away

and came back

how beautiful

the yellow-leafed


the sun brightens

then slips behind clouds