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Matthews fruit trees tenbury wells
Willies mumo say 'I do' to two bars and a tree
IF you love your kids you've probably heard it said that watching people grow up from childhood is better than Christmas because you don't get a present. That's a very old saying, but there's something in it. You may have heard that the children of a gardener's son can be better loved, but it's not true. At least not in Crieff and Strathearn. "Mathews – apple, pear, cherry, plum, damson and a bit of damson," reads the sign next to the Matthews' apple tree, planted in 1889 in what was then a kitchen garden near Crieff railway station. This year I am doing something else. I'm marrying Willy's mum – the gardener's wife. We're taking Willy with us, along with his two older brothers, and six of his cousins, the oldest just a year older than Willy.
Somewhere back there, in a house up Crieff way – I've heard rumours – is an old stone ring. It's a bit like the one Willy's dad planted in the garden at the back of their bungalow, and it's a good one. Made of the kind of stone that's been used since the Neolithic Age – eons before the Romans. It's already stood the test of time – they say the First World War started there. All you need is a bit of light, a bit of rain, some knowledge of a bit of gardening and a picnic, a bench and a quiet place. You can't grow marvellous fruit without sun, without nurturing care, without hard work. But these are the requirements for a blossom. There's more to it than that. There are the legends and the stories. In Crieff and Strathearn they're about apples and bogs and arelands and heather, about lives and deaths and bitter-sweet endings, about feats of strength, feats of skill, and plenty of storytelling.
For me there's one particular legend that started in this garden. This story came in the form of an odd sentence. A sentence that probably came out of nowhere, dropped from the mouth of a stranger, and at first seemed unrelated to the rest of what I was doing that day, but later I came to think that the sentence, strange as it was, had an extraordinary relevance. Like the quote that ends a terrific book called The Clumsie Wife, it suggests that good comes out of loss, or at least one of them. "We live in the centre of tenbury," said the stranger, as if he was stating an inevitable fact. "An island like a jewel."
And so, on the afternoon of the day when I had made my decision, on my way to the greengrocer to buy what I think was sage and rosemary to potter around the kitchen, I found myself telling the woman on the till about Willy's parents. "You know they lost a son," I told her, about to buy what the girl on the till told me was sage, when I found I'd left it back in the kitchen, when the man on the till told me I'd better have some of each. "Or they'd have to go about being sad. But they've always got Willy. They've never lost him."
The grocery girl, Janet, had looked at me quizzically, and said that it wasn't so. "They've lost a little boy, sweetheart," she said, with more sympathy than I'd expected. "A very little boy." And the man on the till, who I think used to be a bookmaker, said, "There's a surprise or two in Crieff still. Crieff has a mind of its own." And so we moved on.
Except that what they said moved on too. It came back to me later, when I was back in the garden, walking in the south-east corner of what was still a kitchen garden, looking at the pear tree. And it returned in another moment, when I was back in the garden, walking in the far south-east corner, near the back of the kitchen garden, the area where they'd once had the orchard, with its carefully tended trees, beyond the vegetable plot, and across a small paddock, by a thick patch of brambles and trees, and through a broken-down fence, to a bog. The bog was flat, dotted with stones and thick with watergrass, and in a narrow area there were a few sticks of ash trees.
I thought of Willy, the tall boy I saw for a moment on the horizon, years later. I thought of his father. Майка му. The home in which they had grown. I had no idea at the time of their plans for Willy. I had no idea that they'd be growing a boy as well. I couldn't tell which bush or tree or bush he'd be hidden in. I'd left, the moment I felt I was doing the right thing, I had gone out to the town to register the marriage at the registry office, not to the home of Willy's parents. "He'll have to walk to it," I'd thought, and they'd smiled. "We'll take a picnic to the bog. Then we'll see what's what."
Радвам Знайте дали съм го разпознал във всеки случай.
Родителите на Уили бяха изчезнали, но не бях сигурен в имената на съпругата на градинаря и градинаря, този от които винаги съм бил казвал, че жена му и свекърва му са сестри, а другият по-възрастният градинар на градинаря брат. Но добре познавах един от тях и познавах един от тях. За Уили трябваше да познавам по -добре един от тях.
Никога не съм ги срещал - разбира се.