Sued51's Blog

{April 4, 2010}   Learning From Our Elders

My husband and I routinely walked around our old neighborhood and talked to our neighbors.  One of them was an over-eighty Armenian seamstress named Elmis, who loved to work in her yard. Elmis taught me a lot about gardening.  She took us around her yard and told us the names of all the plants.  She told us which ones could be trimmed when, and which could be transplanted easily.

Elmis had portulaga at the end of her driveway.  My husband loved the colorful flowers; he said they reminded him of Trix cereal.  She dug some up and gave them to us.  She also told us that even though they were annuals, she never bought more seeds. She just clipped off the heads in the fall and buried them in peat, and they would come up again the next year.  I tried it in my yard and it worked.

Elmis’ yard was a pleasure to look at, always immaculate. We would always make a point of stopping to talk to her if she was outside.  Sometimes we would see the tiny light of the sewing machine through the front window and know that she was working inside.  We learned a lot about Elmis in the quick outside chats— she immigrated to the US with her husband, who died young; her daughter lived down the street; and her black and white cat was named Mickey, after Mickey Mouse—but I never knew her last name.

We don’t live there anymore, but I think of Elmis often when I walk in my new yard.  I doubt she is still alive, but maybe somehow she knows I am thinking about her. She had much to teach; I hope there were others that learned from her as well.

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