jmgoyder

wings and things

Chapter 23: The camellia tree [1999]

on September 6, 2021

Anthony had a green thumb when it came to camellias; they were dotted everywhere around the house and all of them flourished in the dairy farm-fed soil.

About 40 kilometers north of our farm, there was another country town that was home to ‘The Heavenly Gardens’ – a plant nursery specializing in camellias.

At the beginning of this little day trip, I didn’t have the slightest interest in anything green, or pink, or earthy but I humored Anthony by accompanying him. “You already have so many, so why do you need more?” I queried.

But, as our old truck bumped its way up a gravel road into the nursery, I was reluctantly impressed by the camellia-lined route and the stunning forest of camellias beyond.

A tiny, elderly woman, with a stoop way worse than Anthony’s, greeted us and welcomed us into a small shed where her workers were drinking tea. We were offered tea and accepted but, after about 15 minutes I became so bored by the camellia-laden conversation that I wandered off.

And that’s when I found her: a camellia tree planted in the ground with the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen. Each flower resembled a ballerina in full flight. I was smitten.

I ran back to the shed and asked the elderly woman if this tree might be for sale and she immediately said no. She pointed out that it would have to be dug up, that it was a rare breed, that it was unthinkable unless I was willing to pay $400. I looked at Anthony and he shook his head, no! But, against even my own will, I began to bargain and, eventually, I got the price down to $300 which was still a ridiculously enormous price to pay for a camellia tree.

As my tree was dug up and brought to our truck, the workers secretly threw in a few more inferior camellias because they thought I had been ripped off.

When we got home, Anthony planted it and it flowered prolifically for many years, until around the time he became very ill.

And then it died.


5 responses to “Chapter 23: The camellia tree [1999]

  1. beth says:

    it entered and exited with him

  2. susanpoozan says:

    How sad to lose such a connection.

  3. Judy says:

    In honor of your beautiful story. What sweet memories, Julie!

  4. He left,, it left……………….

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