A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Alexandra's Spade
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The story really began when my daughter Alexandra was born in Mexico City 38 years ago. I will skip all that.

Two years ago we suddenly found ourselves the owners of two exquisite hardwood handled stainless steel garden spades. For years I had been using cheap spades ignoring the common sense of not applying too much leverage. I have broken many. I decided then to purchase a good one. So did Ale (Alexandra) who had noticed my track record. I felt saddened that Ale had spent at least $65 on the spade but there was no way I could tell her I already had one. The problem of an extra spade was soon solved when I broke my own. It did not break at the handle. A section of the stainless steel blade simply sheared off.

I continued working in the garden with Ale's spade. After using it to pry a large stone to bury our white cat Polilla in the garden I broke the handle off. The solution was simple. I went to 16th Avenue and Dunbar garden repair shop, the one with the nasty old woman who overcharges. Her shop is the last place left in our area that repairs garden equipment. The good handle from one spade was put into Ale's spade. A couple of months ago I broke it.

I was determined to end the folly. At Lee Valley Tools I bought a fibre glass handled spade with a lifetime guarantee. I looked at Ale's spade sadly and put it away.

Ale is moving to Lillooet this Saturday to live. For the first time in 38 years we will not have her living a few blocks away. Rosemary is upset. So am I but I try to hide it. Ale is moving to a 3/4 acre property. We suspect her house is a shack. She is taking most of her plants.

A couple of years ago Ale gave me the rugosa rose, Rosa 'Hansa'. This extremely hardy rose would grow well in Lillooet's Zone 4. But I could not uproot Ale's gift to me. Luckily I found another classic rugosa, Rosa 'Belle Poitveine' at the UBC Botanical Garden shop. Today I took Ale's spade to be repaired at the 16th and Dunbar shop. The old lady has softened up since she came down with Parkinson's. I explained I wanted the spade repaired, no matter the cost. I told her about Ale and Lillooet. She looked at me and with a smile on her face she said, "It will be ready by Friday."

I hope that Ale's spade will serve her well and that when Rosa 'Belle Poitevine' blooms next year she will remember that we love her.

Ale, I wish you all the best in your new adventure. If you break the spade, don't throw it away. I'll have it fixed.


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