The yellow cab from JFK dropped me, my suitcase and my box of wine at the door on 127th Street. We had flown nine thousand miles, crossed several time zones and two hemispheres and found ourselves in a new season.
I hauled everything inside, greeted the startled cat, and went out to the terrace. And I began to garden.
A jungle has appeared in my absence. Hot weather, long days and plenty of water (French and sky in origin) and suddenly the purple runner beans have made that bean screen I dreamed of, in the long, very dark start to the year. There weren't even flowers when I left. The Malabar spinach is a slender python trailing in search of prey. The shiso (aka Perilla, below) is shiso-ing. The Nicotiana look tropical and are shouldering the roses. All the herbs are in bloom. Even the parsley. I started deadheading.
Then I pulled myself together and forced myself inside to unpack - which I detest - and shower, before letting myself out again. With a glass of sparkling elderflower cordial (about which more later) and bubbly water and lots of ice, I gardened some more.
Then Vince came home, which was wonderful, and I showed him all the goodies I had brought and we had a drink at the stone table.
Last night as we sat eating on the terrace he looked rather sadly at the de-flowered lemon basil. I realized guiltily that he has become proprietorial after being the garden keeper for four weeks, and I should have asked him. They were pretty, he said, taking a sip of prosecco. And they are, and bees love them. But I'm greedy and want the leaves, which give up after full bloom. So, no flowers for now. There will be more.
It's good to be home.