This weekend we caught a lady stealing flowers from our garden. I’d like to say red-handed, but they are purple irises so they don’t leave much residue. In primary school, when we had a spate of firebugs, the teachers would smell suspects’ hands to see if they had a smokey scent. Luckily I didn’t have to do any palm-sniffing for floral notes, as we saw her ruin an iris stem right in front of us. Snap! That’s the sound of a dream ending in the rush of slaughter.
I ran up to her and said “You’re welcome”, as it was the least confrontational opener I could conjure in my rage. She reflexively replied with a gaily “Thank you!”, then turned and froze when she saw me (I wish I could attribute this fear to my massive biceps. Perhaps in a few months…). She started bargaining and saying that they were for a relative who was unwell, and that she could offer money, and after all “I only took 3!”. She didn’t understand that they weren’t for sale. If she had knocked on our door and said that her Mum was sick, and really loved flowers, I would have dug some up for her and put them in a nice pot. It was weird that she cheapened the whole ordeal by saying she could pay – they weren’t for sale anyway. It made me doubt the story, and wonder if she could have bought some other flowers. I just replied “okay” to every new excuse, and waved goodbye. It was just so odd and disrespectful, as she had been furtively driving past in slow-motion, and left her car running as she leapt towards the bulbs.
The experience reminded me of a scene in Tritten’s Heidi’s children, where they return from berry-picking, but instead of refreshing berries, they have only the coins received from selling them. As the Alm-Uncle said about the taste/money transaction, “What can it buy as sweet as the berries you have sold?”. I’m happy to share the sweetness of our flowers, but not with those who have poor manners and even more questionable motives. At the very least, if her Mum really is sick, I hope they provide some cheer.
Margaret Olley would pick flowers on her walks (she called it pruning), to immortalise as paintings. But I’m sure she wouldn’t have taken all the flowers that were in one garden. I feel conflicted about my response, and wonder about the justification of my cynicism. The next morning, I realised that I haven’t enjoyed many of our flowers because they’re gone – leaving a scarred history on almost every plant. Cellular memories of a thieving (not thriving) history. It’s not a unique experience, as mentioned in Amy Stewart’s post, as well as in a thread on combative strategies.
On a happier note, the Sonia orchids in the image (sorry no irises left for enjoyment or photography!) are celebrating today’s wedding anniversary. They were expensive, and from a florist. These are inside so they are definitely safe!
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