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


Fading Blue Birds On My Birthday
Monday, August 31, 2009

Today is my real birthday. I was born on August 31, 1492 in the Anchorena Hospital in Buenos Aires. I am not sure I believe my mother’s story about my father forgetting to register and doing it so on April 18, 1943. My Argentine birth certificate lists the latter as my real birthday and the only “proof” of my real one is the date on my Mappin & Webb birth spoon. My official birthday is most practical because it makes it easy to remember Rosemary’s. Her birthday is on April 19.

A week ago Rosemary left for Ottawa on her way to Maitland to a wedding of her nephew. She was accompanied by our daughter Hilary who was a great help in pushing Rosemary around in her wheel chair. I missed Rosemary but I save lots of money as instead of buying food I decided to empty the refrigerator. She and Hilary returned today.

The little girls, Lauren and Rebecca, were deposited at 11am today. All I could offer them for lunch is one of my favourite meals. It featured fried tomatoes that are almost burned. The sugar content of the tomatoes causes them to go through drastic change in taste which is peculiarly lovely. You scrape the tomatoes off the pan, wait for the pan to cool a bit and then you scramble eggs. The eggs turn into a beautiful ochre. Both Rebecca and Lauren thought the meal was delicious. For a drink I put Ale’s heavy syrupy apricots (from her Lillooet garden) into the blender with ice and lemon juice. It was a feast!

Because of the suitcases and Rosemary’s wheel chair I could not take the girls to pick up Rosemary and Hilary at the airport. We returned and Toby was very glad to see her mistress. We went to Nando’s for my birthday dinner (very hot piri-piri wings). We returned and Hilary unpacked Rosemary’s suitcase while I arranged a light outside so that Rebecca and I could take our picture (Rebecca did the taking by squeezing the bulb). The picture is going to illustrate our two essays (Getting Children Interested in Hostas and Gardening) for the fall issue of the American Hosta Society’s Hosta Journal.

I took Lauren, Rebecca and Hilary home. When I returned Rosemary was pretty well asleep. I though of how I could illustrate my birthday blog. My birthday is always primarily a memory of my birthdays in our Buenos Aires garden. August 31st was preceded or followed by a great storm called La Tormenta de Santa Rosa de Lima (St Rose of Lima Storm) as her day falls on August 30 and traditionally there is lots of rain with wind, thunder and lightning. My birthday was always held in the garden with a piñata and the game of putting the tale on the donkey. That garden is imbedded in my memory as are the plants that grow in the Southern Hemisphere like the oleander, iris, wisteria and my very favourite persimmon tree. And, of course, there are the hortensias or hydrangeas. We have many more varieties and species in our Vancouver garden than we did in Buenos Aires. But I still see hydrangeas as companions of my past. Most at this stage of the summer are in decline. The hydrangea here is Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Bird’. As the flowers fade they change into beautiful fallish colours. It is a lace cap. Most people think that hydrangeas come in two forms, mop heads and lace caps. There is a third that is conical. One of them, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Unique’ is at its prime right now. It is brilliantly white and is full of pollen that has a very strong honey fragrance.

The regularity of my hydrangeas make them good companions in a garden that is past its prime (very much like the resident gardener). And like the resident gardener they are still able to surprise even at this late summer date of August 31.

Best of all Rosemary is back.


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David Charvet - A Sensitive & Kind Young Man

Neck Folds & Elegance At The Bar

The Horror Of Birth - The Philosopher Opines

Alexandra's Gifts

Octavian's Marble

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