'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
Click here to buy the paperback or download the ebook for free.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Lemon Tree

I tried to avoid the glasshouse during our little heat wave, but I went in there again the other evening and it was very nice inside. I told the dog to bite the hose outside, and that kept both of us entertained for half an hour. If you tell him to do something or not to do something he normally ends up biting things, so you might as well just tell him to bite something.

My cousin June has a habit of buying stupid things. One day she bought a statue of a man throwing a newspaper at a dolphin. She was showing it to her mother, my aunt Bridget, that evening, and Bridget pointed out that it was really just a statue of a man holding a newspaper. June said, “No, y’ see…” That’s as far as she got in her explanation. She had to admit that this was another item on the long list of stupid things she bought, so she said she’d take it back to the shop on the following day. The next time Bridget called around, the statue of the man holding the newspaper was still there, but it was next to a statue of a smiling dolphin. June said, “The man in the shop told me that these two statues are a set. He just forgot to give me the one of the dolphin the other day. So it is a statue of a man throwing a newspaper at a dolphin.” Bridget looked at them and said, “If that’s supposed to be a man throwing a newspaper at a dolphin, why is the dolphin so happy?” “Because…” That’s as far as June got in her explanation. Bridget said, “You’re going to have to stop buying stupid things. Don’t buy anything unless you think about it first.” “It’s not stupid. Dolphins are always happy, even when you throw things at them. Especially newspapers - they’re very intelligent.” Bridget shook her head and clicked her tongue. June changed the subject before her mother could make use of that ‘intelligence’ line. She started talking about the kids rehearsing for their school play. Daisy and Graham were playing daisies in it, and June got them to stare at daisies for inspiration. It kept them quiet for hours, and even Bridget had to admit that this was clever. Bridget and Uncle Harry went along to see the performance, and about half-way through, a boy called Martin walked across the back of the stage. He was holding up a placard that said ‘Lemon tree for sale’, and there was a phone number underneath it. He walked slowly so people would have a chance to read the number. Bridget was intrigued by this, and she couldn’t resist calling the number after the play. She was surprised to find that there really was a lemon tree for sale, and she was even more surprised when she put the phone down and wondered why she had agreed to buy it. She wasn’t all that surprised when she saw the tree and it looked nothing like a lemon tree. It looked nothing like a tree, more like a small bush. She planted it in an out-of-the-way spot in the garden, and hoped that no one would notice it, especially not June. But June did notice it the next time she called around with the kids. Bridget said, “A friend of mine gave me a present of that. I don’t know what it is. I’ll just have to wait and see after it grows.” June thought her mother was acting suspiciously, and then Graham said to his grandmother, “Martin has a black hat stand, if you want to buy it. He said he found it in a phone booth.” “Me? Buy a black hat stand,” Bridget said, and then she laughed. June figured out what was going on. She said, “You bought the lemon tree, didn’t you?” Bridget admitted what she had done, and June said, “Now you can never accuse me of buying anything stupid again.” “Yes I can. Because you will. And I won’t.” “We’ll see about that.” There had been a slight accident after the school play, when a cardboard tree that was part of the set caught fire. To pay for the repairs, the school organised a charity auction. People donated things to be sold. Bridget and June went along to this, and neither of them put in a bid for the first few items because they were so eager to avoid buying anything stupid. But then an antique teapot came up for sale, and they both wanted to buy that because it obviously wasn’t stupid. Martin brought it onto the stage and the bidding started. A few other people were trying to buy it is well, but then Martin held up a sign that said ‘For a similar teapot in better condition, call this number’. The other people dropped out of the bidding and got out their phones, but June and Bridget kept outbidding each other. Then Martin held up a sign that said ‘This one here was dug up by a dog’. They still kept putting in bids, but they were slightly more tentative now. June finally backed down. When the teapot was sold to Bridget, June smiled and said, “You bought a teapot dug up by a dog.” Bridget said, “It doesn’t matter who or what it was dug up by. It’s still a perfectly good teapot.” “That’s much more stupid than a statue of a man throwing a newspaper at a dolphin. Or even the lemon tree.” This argument went on for days, and neither of them bought anything in this time. Daisy was holding an apple in the back garden one day. She looked at it and said to Graham, “That cloud looks just like an apple.” Graham said, “You were looking at the apple when you said that.” “I’d just seen the cloud.” “That apple looks just like an apple - that’s what you should have said.” Daisy said, “Yeah well this apple looks just like that cloud.” Graham was confused at this stage. He didn’t know what to say then. Daisy said, “And the watering can looks like that cloud.” Graham looked up. Daisy said, “And that cloud looks like the shed.” Graham looked at a flowerpot, more confused than ever then. Bridget had been shopping that morning, and she was tempted to buy a brass statue of a dog with his head stuck in a flowerpot, but that was obviously stupid. When she called around to June’s place, Graham was staring at a cardboard box in the back garden. She asked him what he was looking at and he said, “An eighteenth century writing desk.” She asked if his mother bought it and he said yes. Bridget smiled. She went away again and came back half an hour later with the brass statue she’d seen that morning. She showed it to June and said, “I bought a brass statue of a dog with his head stuck in a flowerpot, and I know it’s stupid, but you can’t say anything about it because you bought an eighteenth century writing desk.” “What, this?” June said as she pointed at an eighteenth century writing desk in the front room. Bridget didn’t know what to say, but June did. She said, “You bought a brass statue of a dog with his head stuck in a flowerpot. You can never ever accuse me of buying anything stupid again. Nothing could possibly be as stupid as that.” Bridget looked down at the statue for a while, then she looked up and said, “Do you want to buy it?” June thought about it for a while and said, “Yeah, okay.”

The moose’s head over the fireplace looked very suspicious when we put a small statue of a fox in the room. I can understand why the hen in the painting looked surprised, but I wouldn’t have thought that the moose would worry about a fox. And this particular fox does look very friendly.