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Junkyard Garden

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Junkyard Garden |

The first time I see the garden it's a junkyard. Littered with car parts, old radiators, scrap metal and the hollowed-out body of a 1971 Alfa Romeo. Chris lives here in the house next to his fathers’ Karosseriewerkstatt. He leads me across the gravel yard to a surprisingly pretty Laube off to the side. It’s covered with a bushy, wild vine and fitted with old window frames along one entire side. How charming, I think, if someone just cleaned it up a bit and dusted the old wooden table and benches.

Chris cracks open two beers with a rusty garden tool and hands me one. Not exactly the most romantic guy I’ve ever met, but he speaks English, climbs mountains and I like the way he smells. So far so good. He goes inside to get plates for the barbeque.

Alone, I circle the junk yard sipping my beer. A row of ripe raspberry stalks run wild along the fence and a cracked terracotta pot spills a mess of scraggly, red and white geraniums. I run my fingers along the stems of the flowers and a peppery scent wafts through the air. I’m suddenly reminded of my garden in California but I push back the homesickness. With an exquisite ‘snap’ between my fingers, I behead the dried flowers and toss out the wilted leaves; letting in light and energy for new growth. This irresistible urge to trim and pick at plants comes from my mother, who got it from her mother.

Chris returns with some dishes and a heaping bowl of fresh potato salad. I am about to meet his friends for the first time and I’m nervous about making a fool of myself with my primitive German skills. On the other hand, who cares? It’s not like I’m going to stay in Salzburg forever. I’m not going to think about this too much, just go with the flow.

25 years go by. I open the gate to the junk yard garden, but there's no more junk. The gravel lot is lush green grass with Gänseblümchen in white tufts across the lawn. The raspberries survived a move to the front gate stretching their stalky arms to the sun, hiding plump berries under prickly leaves.

The wild vine over the Laube is humming with hundreds of bees. Fine, golden pollen lands on the white table cloth below and I wipe it away with my hand. Along the wooden window panes, now chipping with age, brightly colored glass bottles and vases glisten in the sun. I sit in the shade of a tall cherry tree, planted 22 years ago to celebrate the birth of our first son.

Vergissmeinnicht, Mädchenaugen, Pfingstrosen; I can name all the flowers in my garden. If I speak to them in English, they forgive me. Afterall, we have a long history together. My thoughts are interrupted by the muffled klackety-klack of my father-in-law still tinkering away in the Werkstatt.

Chris pokes his head through the gate, “Werf’ ma an Griller on?" I look around the garden we built together and decide it's a great day to have a barbecue. “Ja, mach’ ma”, I reply. I’ll gather a bouquet of flowers for the table and we’ll just go with the flow.

© Marie Motil 2021-03-12


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