Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tortured Soul



My sister has a serious problem but I don't think it requires a therapist or a doctor.  Just some serious understanding from those around her. I discovered something about her that really surprised me. She does not like ivy. My sister and I were sitting on a low-walled rock fence looking out over the landscape of changing colors, drinking some hot coffee in the cool air. Summer was fading away and bountiful autumn was stepping in taking over the scene. Across the way there was an meandering ivy plant, showing off its progress last spring as it made its way along the fence, relinquishing itself to the change in season. It was absolutely stunning, with its deep reds, oranges, yellows, dirty purples and greens. Maybe it was the caffeine boost I got from the coffee, but I couldn't stop talking about it. I went back in time reflecting back when I lived on the East coast with all the mature buildings and vegetation, nearly forgetting my sister was even sitting next to me. When I got back to being in our moment, I noticed how ominously quiet she was. Not a smile, nod or contribution to the conversation. You see, she never looked at the fence. Instead, she sat very quietly looking at her steamy reflection in the coffee tapping the side of her paper cup. "What's wrong sister?", I asked. She replied quietly but with a little hesitation, "The ivy... I don't see it that way, I see a mess". I couldn't tell if she was disappointed, sad or sick. There was an awkward moment of silence followed by a very deep thought when I suddenly busted up laughing. My sister had a problem with ivy!! You see, when I see beautiful ivy growing on a building or fence, I see a cute hobbit house or a stately building. I see a blending of nature and architecture. My gosh, I experience art, colors, texture, shapes, composition, moods. However, my poor sister sees an invasion, a plague. She sees rats. She sees little tendrils slipping into cracks and making bigger cracks. Simply put, she is a tortured soul.

I continue to laugh with complete abandoned, shamelessly not taking my sisters recently unveiled neuroses into consideration. It all makes sense now. Her windows on her turn-of-the-century home are the best caulked windows in the northern hemisphere. How many times have I called her and she is got her caulking gun, sealing the windows around her house. If she isn't shopping for food, she is caulking. Thinking back on our childhood, I believe there is a very good explanation for her caulking and ivy-phobe behavior. Our older brother, during high school, had a part-time job cutting ivy from a condominium complex.  Any opportunity to creep us out, he did! He would go into detail about the rats, mice and voles living in the thick, lush, ground cover and the hundreds upon hundreds of snails, slugs and spiders. Admittedly, I have been forever cautious around ivy and always think twice about stepping in it, but my sister? I think she processed it a little differently. Ivy vines, Spanish Moss, and ground cover pose a serious life threat to her, squeezing the last bit of oxygen from her lungs, suffocating her into a complete state of stupor. All I can say is, thank goodness for home depot and caulking goo. Secretly, I think she keeps a little syringe of it in her purse...just in case.

2 comments:

Honor said...

well, as a long time gardner, I have had too many unpleasant experiences with ivy, and I tend think of it as the scourge of the botanical universe. At best, its green (most varieties, for most of the year), and short of a direct nuclear hit, it just keeps on growing...and growing, and growing!! But that's about all I can say about it in a positive light!! You?

Alex Apffel said...

I love this one. Your writing is so funny-yet so loving. Maybe you should start picking on somebody besides your sister!