This is the time of the year when everyone loves getting out to enjoy the weather and lap up large doses of the “sunlight vitamin” D.
The race is on, to – spruce up the lawn, de-weed the garden and get rid of the dandelions, add topsoil and fertilize the flower-beds, scrub the deck and clean up the barbecue, wash the cars and rid the mats of the salt residue collected during the winter months, collect the junk to put out on the kerb to “spring clean” and so on …
We came to Canada in March 1996, when the snow was still on the ground. Gradually, winter gave way to spring and as the snow melted, we started to discover stuff in our front and back yards for the first time. The sandpit that the earlier homeowners had built for their young children in the backyard, the saplings of an ash tree and a lilac bush that emerged from under the heaps of snow, tiny saplings that started to peek out from under the ground in the flower beds and the carpet of green grass that was now coming into its own. Wonders of nature.
Gradually many different varieties of flowers were starting to appear, lending color to a landscape that had been uniformly white until a few weeks ago. While admiring and enjoying a beautiful garden as much as the guy next door, I must confess to having little or no knowledge of gardening techniques or flora species and even less interest or enthusiasm in growing anything. No green fingers on either of my hands, for sure!
I was therefore grateful to and very impressed by the previous owners, who had very graciously left behind a well tended garden in good shape, for us to enjoy. In particular, as I stepped out on to the front lawn each morning, it my heart swelled with gratitude and pride at discovering and marvelling at the fresh crop of bright yellow flowers that would have sprung up overnight spreading all over the lawn, heightening the emerald green of dew-covered grass. A couple of weeks later I realized that the grass had grown and needed to be mown. I asked my neighbor how he managed to cut his grass without damaging the flowers on the lawn. “What flowers?” he inquired. I pointed out the yellow posies. He laughed incredulously, “You mean these weeds? Dandelions!” I am glad my neighbors had not marched out as a posse, pitch-forks in hand, to dispense justice to these thriving much-maligned florets and their ignoramus custodian!
Another lesson learned, as a new immigrant!
An equally important take-away for me was that it is not always right to remain politically correct; one should be able to politely point out erroneous behavior without giving offence and educate a person who might otherwise never learn. Thankfully, my neighbor and a couple of other friends who welcomed us to Canada turned out to be admirable, patient and blunt teachers. It made our settlement process so much easier and probably helped us avoid potentially embarrassing behavior.
On a different note, our friends recently returned after a vacation in South Africa and we came back from India, very grateful to be back home to our country that has the world’s largest fresh water resource. Next time you water your lawn, wash the car or scrub the deck, please spare a thought for the people out there who do not have water to drink. Canadians are estimated to use around 330 litres of water per person per day, 65% of it literally going down the drain to flush the toilets and showering or bathing. Cape Town residents were forced to ration water to 50 litres per person per day as they approached “Day Zero”.