A nunnery, no longer in use, became a herbarium, a medieval garden with several beds devoted to healing plants, and a heritage seed and tree center. It seemed like a great place to spend a lazy, sunny, late spring day.
Several times I caught her about to snip this or that from the garden. Very carefully lettered (in gothic calligraphy of course) signs politely asked visitors not to take cuttings. Instead, buy the plant or seeds from their greenhouse, located . . .
She had skipped ahead of me, following a tour group. When I caught up with her, she was mesmerized by a blooming tree. It’s orchid and lotus like flowers offered up a sweet incense that smelled like rain, tears, and rainbows. A sign warned of danger if in contact with the plant. As she would not permit denials of access, she very dramatically reached across the wrought iron barrier, and picked several flowers. She drank in the warm smell, getting giddy.
As she turned to let me smell the flowers, the fine print on the warning sign caught up with her. Slowly, skin and flesh became formed of multiple exotic woods. Her face was carved quiet and contemplative; eyes closed listening to some far off music. A flower from the tree remained in her hands.
I brought her home to our garden, placing a wrought-iron bench across from her. I had daily conversations with her. Telling her stories of the world outside the garden. Reminding her of who she had been. Saying how much I loved her.
But she stood mute. In rain and snow. In summer heat and winter’s cold. When autumn leaves piled up at her feet. When petals glided on to her hand. When I was waking up or putting the gardens to bed.
The lotus flower she held so gently remained as fresh as the day she picked it. The enticing exotic smell permeated the garden in all seasons. I came to think of her as being made of lotus wood. That she had always been a garden statue; one that came to life, into my life.