The Gardener Returns, A Dialogue, Part Ten A

Writer – Then there’s the Tale of the Gardener.
Gardener – Very funny.
Writer – Not you! This gardener is helpless until he puts on his boots. Then he’s inspired and can cover seven leagues, doing the work of twelve people.
Gardener – Sounds like another fairy tale
Writer – This is once upon a time, but still true to life, when there was a boy who imagined he was rich because he lived in a large house in the suburbs with a wide lawn in front and a forest in the back where he played. Every day his father drove home in a brand new car. The youngster could see himself stretched in all directions in the polished chrome hubcaps. The fenders were brighter and shinier than the silverware at the diner table. On Sundays, if the sun was out and the day warm, the family went driving happily in one of his father’s huge convertibles. With the top down they drove along wooded lanes. The shadows danced before his eyes. One day his father took him to a place where a hundred cars as bright and shiny as the ones he drove home were parked. Inside a large room with walls of glass on three sides, brightly colored parked cars looked like giant toys in a department store window. “I built this,” he told his son. Each car faced outward poised for a race. In the center of the room a small two seater sports car rotated on a revolving carousal in the floor. A woman in a bathing suit with long golden hair waved her hand at the boy. When she tilted her head and smiled at the boy, it reminded him of a crescent moon on a summer night. She looked like a princess. “She isn’t real,” his father told him; “otherwise she’d drive off!” But she seemed real to him.
But one day his father didn’t come home. That night he heard his mother crying in her room. All week, his mother set the table as she had for as long as he could remember. But his father never returned and took his seat at the head of the table. His mother cooked for them as she had in the past. But she kept crying, her tears falling into the soup. His older brother and sister complained. After that they all stopped eating at the diner table. They ate standing up in the kitchen or sitting in front of the TV or wherever they happened to be. Then his mother stopped taking care of the house, and after than, herself. Then one day his mother put on her makeup and pulled herself together with a blouse and a skirt, heels and stockings. She told his older brother and sister to keep an eye on him and his younger sister and left for the day. After that she left every day. His older brother and sister paid no attention to him or his sister. Everyone fended for themselves. One day weeks later his mother returned home wearing a stiff white dress with her name stitched above her breast pocket. She seemed happier. Every morning she left the house without feeding anyone and returned home late at night, too tired to think of food. By now he had learned to be quick. In the beginning his older brother and sister were always the first to raid the cupboards and the refrigerator for food. Although his older siblings fought among themselves, they agreed their younger siblings were a burden. When they were angry they shouted at them, and sometimes hit them. When they weren’t angry they referred to them as fools. At night when the older kids filled the house with loud music and acted crazy, the boy took his little sister’s hand and hid, but it was difficult sleeping.
One day the young boy discovered the toaster. He saw his older sister use it. When she left the kitchen, he toasted slices of bread for himself and his little sister. He found jam in the refrigerator and with a spoon spread it over all the slices. Not long after he watched his older sister boil eggs on the electric range. After she left he tried it himself. The egg was too hot to touch but he carefully drained the pot. Following his sister’s example he ran cold water over it. When it was cool enough to touch, he cracked it. He found the egg fully cooked. He showed his younger sister. After carefully removing the shell fragments, they divided it in half with a knife and ate it. He learned to mix it with mayonnaise. From then on he made them egg salad sandwiches on toast. As he got older he learned to cook simple meals for himself and his little sister. He watched a strange old woman on TV who cooked food and seemed to talk directly to him. He even mimicked her accent which made his little sister laugh. When he was old enough to ride his bicycle down to the super market, he bought his own pasta using whatever change he could find in the house. He knew how to cook it and mix it with canned tomato sauce. When his older brother and sister discovered this they demanded he cook for them. They gave him money to buy food. He like experimenting with flavors. Soon everyone but his mother was eating at the table again. As the undisputed master of the kitchen he reserved part of every meal for his mother, even though his older siblings thought she didn’t deserve it. At first surprised she accepted his offering. After that, when she came home late at night, she looked forward to it. She began giving him a family allowance to buy what they needed.
Then one night his mother woke them all and they left the house in the station wagon packed with only their most precious belongings. Next morning after driving around most of the night they came to another house where the houses were closer together with small square lawns in front and Norway maples in back crowding against a boundary fence. There they lived for a year. On her way to work she drove them all to their schools which was now far away. At the end of that time his mother woke them again. They drove through the night and the next morning came to another house, this one even smaller than the last and without a lawn in front or trees in the back. This leaving at night and arriving in the morning happened three or four more times. One day the boy asked his mother why they never left during the day. She drove him to a suburb like the one where they once lived. They turned down a street and past a house with tall trees and a manicured lawn. A brand new car was parked in the driveway. He saw his father on a ladder fixing the gutter above the front door. The young woman with long blond hair stood by the door, talking to him. He saw a very small girl sitting on the grass. A boy a few years younger than him was climbing a tree just the way he had when he lived in a house like this. As they drove by the boy turned his head so he could hold on to this happy picture that once belonged to him.
After that he never asked his mother about his father; nor did he ask her for his allowance. By the time he was in 8th grade he was cutting lawns and raking leaves for people who lived in communities like the one he once lived in. On Saturdays his mother dropped him off on her way to work and his older sister picked him up. Then she complained because he didn’t pay her for her trouble. So he decided from then on to walk home. The people for whom he worked noticed and began to drive him home. Because he worked hard they offered to pick him up.
One day during his first year in high school as he was walking home he passed an unusual house with high roofs and low eves around which a small intricate garden grew. There was a path leading through the garden and he was down it. Even though the garden appeared small, the path seemed endless. He was standing in front of the door to the cottage, when an old woman appeared at the corner of the house carrying a basket full of flowers. He was surprised and couldn’t keep his eyes off the lovely flowers. She saw his interest and showed him the contents of her basket. She gave strange names to each variety of flowers. Although he needed the money he offered to work for her free of charge. “What a kind boy,” she said.
Every Sunday he worked there and just before noon while he weeded, she collected greens leaves and colorful fruits growing among her flowers and shrubs. On a small slate patio in back of the house there was a glass table with white, wrought iron legs. White iron chairs were set around it. There on her old china plates with floral patterns the old woman placed a loaf of her own baked bread and large wedges of cheese. In a large bowl with painted birds and flowering bowers she tossed together the things he had seen her collect, adding a special dressing she made herself. One day she asked him what he’d like to do when he grew us and he told her he wanted to be President, so his poor mother would be proud. She told him anything and everything is possible. Then one day while eating thick slices of bread, he told her he wanted to be a baker. She told that anything and everything is possible, adding that the yeast she used to make her bread was a living thing, like her garden. Then one day while eating chunks of cheese which had a strong flavor and was mottled with green and gray colors, he told her he wanted to be a cheese maker. She told him anything and everything is possible adding that cheese was always made with bacteria, which was found everywhere on Earth, even in hot springs. But some cheeses like this one, she told him, were stored in caves where fungi grew over them and flavored them. Bacteria, she said, belongs to its own Domain and helped control the destiny of all life. She said the fungi, however, belong to their own Kingdom in the Domain, Eukarya. Because they’re neither plant nor animal, they are on equal footing with both. She told him people are afraid of mushrooms, yet the fungi link all the Kingdoms of Eukarya. She said they even helped plants thrive off the inanimate by breaking down stone and turning dead wood into humus. But equal to Bacteria and the to all the inhabitants of Eukarya is the powerful Domain, Archaea, one of the most abundant life forms on Earth. They control the air we breath and just about every facet of life. But no one has ever heard of them. Whenever they were together she encouraged his creative side. She knew more about his world than his mother.
The following spring, after he finished mowing the lawn and had put away her mower, she came out of the house and showed him how she divided the Iris which had finished blooming. She cut back the tall leaves and then gently forked the thick, exposed tubers up. She called them rhizomes. After they were all lifted they studied them for weakness or rot. She told him that the fibrous roots under the rhizome would wither away but she liked replanting the iris with all its dying roots deeply buried to anchor the heavy, top blades in the soil until the new roots seized the earth. They need the entire growing season to send out new roots before the ground freezes, otherwise they fall over when the earth heaves between freezing and thawing. She gave him three rhizomes each with a pair of growing leaves and told him to plant them for his mother with the top of the rhizome exposed.
The next year his iris bloomed by the back door of his mother’s house. The color of the flowers reminded him of the purple silk slip he saw his mother wear when his father lived at home. She was pleased. It made her smile. That season he and the Old Woman cut back other perennials when they finished blooming; then dug and divided the clumps. Out of one large aster, she called oblongifolius, the last to be dug, the Old Woman produced four smaller ones. That summer between his junior and senior year all the clumps he and the Old Woman had divided the year before had grown by the end of the season to the size of the original plant. He thought to himself this is like the goose that laid the golden egg. The Old Woman showed him how to collect seed from the dried flowers; how to store them in paper bags carefully marked with the name, color and date collected; she show him how to prepare some seed, freezing them to break their out coating. The following year they sowed them in place, each species together to better watch them and watched the bent stems and cotyledons straighten. Later they moved them around. She showed him how to take cuttings of certain perennials and annuals so he could multiply his possessions like the loaves of bread and fish in the bible. But even more powerful than this magic of multiplication was her formulas for arranging plants so that they benefited from each other’s beauty. This shape with that shape, this color with that color, this texture with that texture. These combinations were pleasing to see and made him happy. She said beautiful gardens can heal wounded spirits. He remembered the day he was drawn into her garden and how it changed his life. But she warned him, often if the gardener is unaware of what he has done and unable to see his work then he or she is cursed with unhappiness.
By his senior year his small business prospered. He owned a trailer with two mowers and had another young man working for him. He no longer depended on his mother for his clothing and gave her money every week during the growing season so she could buy groceries. This way the family fortunes brightened.
Gardener – Don’t make this another John D. Rockefeller story.
Writer – This is not that kind of story. After all, it’s about a gardener, not an oil man! Before he left for college, the Old Woman tells him about a public garden “on the serpent’s tongue.”
Gardener – On the tongue of what serpent?
Writer – Slang means snake in Dutch.
Gardener – So what?
Writer – That was her metaphor for New Draak City, the island metropolis at the mouth of The Slang River.
Gardener – I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Writer – As we all know Captain North, sailing for Dutch East India Company, discovered the river in his search for a passageway to the East. The first settlers on the island “in the river’s mouth” were traders who bought the island from the Lenape Indians in exchange of goods worth approximately 60 guilders. This transaction by the agents of the Dutch East India Company became the legal basis by which our latter day Kings established their right, as individuals, like you and me, over the entire island and later the 3000 miles to the west. In the 1600s it was believed that anyone following The River Slang’s serpentine course, hence the river’s name, would eventually find at its end, the golden Orient.
Gardener – Sounds like a Chinese restaurant.
Writer – Some said the cities in the East were made of silver and gold. Many believed the jewels brought by the Magi came from these cities.
Gardener – Some people will believe anything.
Writer – The simple truth is, the Dutch were businesspeople. They weren’t interested in following the River Slang to the east, but were content to welcome those going up the Slang in search of the fabled cities and providing them, at a nominal cost, all the supplies they needed; and later, when they returned downriver, relieving them of their burdens, more valuable than gold and silver in the current market, the bundles of beaver pelts in high demand by all the best dressers in Europe.
Gardener – All I wanted to know was why the woman said the garden was on “the tongue of the serpent!”
Writer – The Dutch liked to say their village of New Slang was “in the river’s mouth.”
Gardener – She said “tongue!”
Writer – Later, when the English replaced the Dutch, a clerk, writing up the bill of exchange, confused the word snake with dragon, so the settlement became the English metropolis of New Draak. This seemed fitting because of the common species of snapping turtles, Chelydra serpentine, found living in middle of the island whose fierce features and aggressive behavior when found on land, reminded everyone of the dragons they’d seen when they were children. The vigorous defense these turtles make when on dry land, literally snapping at anyone who approaches, led to a misconception of their powers. It was even believed a snapping turtle could pull a small child into the water and devour them.
Gardener – What about “the tongue!”
Writer – Eventually Chelydra serpentine was confused with a related species, Macrochelys temminckii, living in the Mississippi delta which was much larger and had on its tongue a mark that resembled a worm. When the turtle moved its tongue, unsuspecting fish were lured into its mouth.
Gardener – That? That’s the tongue?
Writer – The Old Woman was aware that in those days of yore, when travelers went up the Slang in search of treasure, New Draak was often called The Gateway To Happiness. Even in the time of the Gardener, New Draak City was known to lure into its jaws those seeking fortune, a reputation NDC continues to have.
Gardener – I’m sorry I asked.
Writer – The Old Woman tells the young man that the head man of this garden is a wizard. His enemies say he likes plants more than people. This is true, she confirms. He finds that most people are either hard working and gullible or too lazy to care about anything. In his estimate, she adds, both will follow a minority of unscrupulous and self-centered people, one believing all they are told, the other lacking the energy to think otherwise. But all this changed when he met the Porcelain Man, the greatest gardener of his age. It was the Porcelain Man who bent the Wizard’s cynicism with humor. With his energy and enthusiasm he helped the Wizard create the paradise we all love “on the serpent’s tongue.” One day, she said, the Wizard will need you.
The young gardener attends a local community college for two years, specializing in horticulture. On graduation he’s ready to seek his fortune. He returns to the Old Woman, who has treated him like a son and thanks her. She tells him it’s time to go into the mouth of Draak. “The Wizard needs you.” “How can I help the Wizard,” he asks nervously. “A terrible Scourge has taken the Porcelain Man away,” she tells him. “You mean replace the Porcelain Man? Me? I can’t.” The Old Woman tells him not to be afraid, each of us, she says, is meant to do something, and what that is won’t be clear until the day it’s revealed to you. You can only work to the best of your abilities. Even if the Wizard gives you the work of the Porcelain Man, that might not be your final destination.
Gardener – So he drives toward the city. . .
Writer – And he comes to a magnificent river flowing to the sea, which separates him from the city beyond. In the distance he sees the spires and towers. He pays a toll man and crosses the river on a great bridge, that’s hangs in the air. The garden is perched on a hill north of the bridge, like a tiny battlement against the grandeur of glass buildings to the south. He parks his truck in a lot filled with cars. The lot is hemmed in by a wall of tall shrubs, many of which are new to him. He follows a pathway leading through the dense shrubbery and suddenly he is standing on an open lawn looking at a great natural stone battlement rising up on the other side of the river he’s just crossed. In front of this palisades, on the far edge of the lawn is a wooden pergola set on cement pillars. Flowers overflow baskets hanging in the shade of the wooden frame which is covered with woody climber. On his right a tall glass house rises beyond a flower garden, like the central hall of a temple to Flora. Glass transepts span east and west along the entire length of the garden. He walks through the garden and enters a wooden porch painted blue, then through the double doors beyond. Aside from an Acacia tree bearing grey green leaves growing to the peaked roof in the corner and a sparse Bougainvillea with oval leaves growing up the north glass wall, the temple is empty. Next to the vine concrete stairs lead through the glass wall into a room beyond. It is inside this room, in what is called the Potting Shed, the gardener meets the white haired Wizard. As the old woman had foreseen, he is hired.
For a year the young gardener works alongside other gardeners doing every conceivable job, excelling in those he was already familiar, learning about those unfamiliar. But it is a year of mourning. The Porcelain Man is gone. He learns from those who knew him that he had been an eccentric but energetic man who fostered energy and excitement among his co-workers. He had taken his work personally, had suffered every disaster to befall the garden as if the blows had been inflicted on him. He had demonstrated to everyone that this Garden was theirs by right of their work and this work, this profession, an avocation, a privilege. Salary meant nothing to him but the smile on the face of a visitor everything. Like the Wizard he was intolerant of the lazy, but unlike the Wizard he suffered because of them. He couldn’t understand that for some a job is just a job. Now everyone wanders around at a loss, everyone including the Wizard.
One day the Wizard assigns the young gardener to the Pruner of The Yews.
Gardener – The Pruner of the Yews?
Writer – Naturally, this is once upon a time. So together with their sheers and a pruning ladder they climb the stairway to the High Garden which rises up behind the potting shed and greenhouse. The garden has fallen on bad times since the Scourge took the Porcelain Man away. At the top of the hill the giant yews enclosing the gazebo have darkened as the new growth ages.
Gardener – I suppose it wouldn’t sound as good if his title was Pruner of the Taxus.
Writer – The words clash. The Pruner tells him that they must never sheer the yews while the woad is flowering, unless that is, they’re rejuvenating the Taxus – right? – and want new growth to break on the dark wood further in.
Gardener – Isatis tintoria has a good ring.
Writer – “Why is that,” asks the newcomer. “Because the Porcelain Man once noticed how the yellow green flowers of Isatis – ok? – merged visually with the late spring growth of Taxus.” The Pruner goes on to tell him that when the Wizard first arrived here, the yews had been an unruly group around the gazebo, closing the entire structure in. The Wizard hacked the yews back, then molded them around the roof of the gazebo forming a tight enclosure that forced those sitting inside to look out over the High Garden to the river far below. The Wizard then taught the Pruner of Yews the art of green sculpture. The men begin at the foot of the evergreens sheering the branches back from the gravel paths. Why has no one taken over this garden, the newcomer asks. He has noticed that while the other gardens have their curators, this one is managed by everyone under instruction of the Wizard. The Pruner doesn’t know. Perhaps the Wizard is waiting for a sign. The Pruner has worked here for ten years. He barely graduated from high school, worked in a local bodega, then drove a cab at night. One day he read about a federal program which helped place young people in meaningful jobs and paid their employers the salary of the worker. The idea was to help train new people for particular work. But the Pruner discovered that many employers simply used him as cheap labor or used him to replace skilled labor. But luckily his last placement was here under the Wizard, who did train him. “Most of us,” he said, “are refugees from the economic meat grinder downtown. We’ve come here with no home of our own. Even the Porcelain Man, though trained as an artist, was lost in the mouth of Draak until he met the Wizard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the American wing, where he was coping the illustrations off 19th century ceramics. When the Garden went public, the Porcelain Man sat at the front gate collecting tickets. But it wasn’t long before he was working on the grounds. You too, Gardener, are like us. You’re here because those in the world out can’t afford to love you.” Until then the young Gardener hadn’t realized he was like them, seeking sanctuary in a small world surrounded by giant enterprises.
At the end of his first year the Wizard takes him up to the High Garden. He tells him the High Garden will now be under his care. The view from the gazebo is spectacular. Gravel pathways lead in every direction and wherever he looks he sees something new, something the Old Woman would have called marvelous. He can see the entire Public Garden beneath him, the tall golden grasses in the Monocot Garden, the Dahlias and Salvias in the Flower Garden, the flowering white tree in the Lilac Border. . .
Gardener – Heptacodium miconioides, the seven son tree from China.
Writer – Beyond them the Slang sun lit below, and the Palisade beyond, where trees clinging to the edge show a hint of Autumn. In the distance the great Bridge spans the diaphanous span he first crossed when he came here. And to the south, New Draak as radiant as the fable cities the explorers had hoped to find. A wave of fear overcomes him. How can all this be mine, he thinks. I can see the entire world. How can I live up to the greatness of my predecessor? He runs down the path, down the stairs and returns to the potting shed. But then he remembers what the Old Woman had said the last time he saw her. He returns to the Wizard, who is waiting, and accepts.
Here in the shadow of the Porcelain Man, whose presence he can feel, especially in the bed of the cutleaf sumac. . .
Gardener – Rhus typhina Laciniata
Writer – bordered by three paths, where a mocking bird sits on a branch surveying his work everyday. While weeding he stumbles upon plants he’s never seen before. But in time he learns their names and comes to know them. He sees himself as no more than an ark in the stream of life that must insure the survival of all those the Porcelain Man introduced. He is there, he tells himself, to preserve the man’s vision. The following year when the Isatis is blooming he sees the wisdom of the Porcelain Man. The Yews and the Woad sing. But as the seasons progress he realizes that the inhabitants move on their own accord; they live and die in their own time and not according to his plans. He is forced to work with them and realizes that the garden is changing. When something dies he must replace it. But at this time, at the beginning of the Gardener’s career, many of the species and cultivars the Porcelain Man had mysteriously procured, are still unavailable. So the Gardener is forced to improvise. He studies the area to see if he can understand what his predecessor wanted. Then new ideas appear that have promise. When they fail, the Mocking Bird laughs at him. So he digs up the bed and starts again. As he becomes the garden’s master, he becomes the master of his gardening, just as the Old Woman had promised.
When the Porcelain Man was alive, he moved the Wizard with his energy and the Wizard guided him with his restraint. Together they introduced many new plants to the Garden, the Wizard wanting something that was perfect, the other, like one of the early explorers, searching for new plants to expand his horizons. Together they found ways to combine members of the plant kingdom to create borders of beauty, which, as the Old Woman had first shown the Gardener, could ease people’s suffering.
One day the chairwoman of a garden club across the River, approaches him up in the High Garden and tells him her mother is now confined to a wheelchair which prevents her from walking in her garden. She wants him to design and plant a garden her mother can easily visit. He agrees. Although he has retained some of his earliest clients out of loyalty she becomes his first new client since becoming a public gardener for the Wizard. He likes the incapacitated woman who reminds him of the Old Woman. He installs a walkway that is easily traversed by a wheelchair. The walkway is level while the garden around it is built into the hill in back of the house, providing a comforting enclosure. The end of the walkway circles around a small pool with a fountain in the center. Here the old woman sits and listens to the birds in the dogwoods overhead. A neighbor takes notice. Soon his services are sought by everyone. When asked for credentials he gives the name of the Public Garden on the tongue of Draak and everyone is impressed. The Wizard’s reputation is renown. The Gardener enjoys working with people who like working with him. He finds the creative dialogue stimulating. But times are changing. Many clients want him to install gardens the way designers install living rooms. They don’t know what they want, they don’t care as long as it looks like a picture out of a garden magazine. He tells them he is too busy.
At this time the Board of Directors of the Public Garden choose a new President for the Garden. She is very close to many of the Kings’ vassals working in City Hall and arrives highly recommended both in the private and public sector. She visits the Garden for the first time on the day of her first interview with the Board. When ask by the chairman of the board of her first impression, she says “I was wondering where I could buy a cup of coffee.” If her intention is to startle with incongruity, she succeeds. The bankers laugh, while the lawyers look at one another with raised eyebrows. They tell her the usual answer is always about the magnificent view of the palisades on entering the main lawn. She shrugs her shoulders and replies, “I missed that.” The chairman, a banker who has benefited from the recent deregulation of banking rules, smiles. He asks her if she got her cup of coffee. “Eventually,” she admits; adding “In that first moment I was lost, bewildered. Where do I go from here, I asked myself. Not into the greenhouse, for god’s sake.” The directors nod to one another. She is talks like them. “As a first time visitor I assume I felt as other visitors did, in need of guidance. Where,” she asks, “was the signage. . ?”
Gardener – Was Moses looking for a signage from god?
Writer – It’s just another fairy tale. Like all the rest we’ve discussed. Anyway the Kings’ vassals shrug their collective shoulders. They aren’t involved in the day to day management of the Garden. That would be her job. She confides with them. “It’s the duty of every public steward to get the most value out of public property. I see this public garden the way a landlord sees his property. It is there to be utilized for the going market price. That is how I see my public stewardship.”
She tells them confidently that as president she will introduce a new era of business friendly partnerships. Forging contracts favorable to the Garden, these will include a food concession, run by a reputable and familiar chain – visitors will be encouraged to eat and drink. Going on, she describes a visitors’ center where ticket holders can tour the grounds virtually, with finger tip ease. If it’s too hot or too cold, rainy or snowy, everyone inside the center can tour the gardens without ever having to leave the comforts of the center. Plush couches will be provided. Ongoing visual commentaries will keep everyone entertained. This process will dovetail with another commercial venture: a retail marketing company with knowledge in public programming will provide a seamless environment where visitors taking the virtual tour will be within hands reach of all the necessary tools they will be encouraged to need in order to enrich their “visitor experience.” The digital tour will be laced with cues whetting their appetites and stirring their neurotransmitters; in other words, those sitting on the couches, will find the necessary shopping incentives for our single most important revenue engine, the garden shop. Guide books for all ages, books on gardening by famous TV and movie stars, books on cooking by the leading competition chefs, and for those who can’t read or are adept at multitasking, headsets will be sold, carrying our exclusive audio downloads by well known news personalities. For the children our handheld magnifying glasses illuminated with LEDs, illustrated with well know cartoon characters will be irresistible. Other nifty devices one must have when touring the garden, not to mention a special GPS units with our new logo will be available! “You have a logo in mind,” asked one of the lawyers. “Something Asian,” she says without pause, “perhaps a Chinese symbol looking like a pergola or a clump of grass, resembling green knife-like-blades of grass.” In this way she promises to bring a backward public garden into the global economy. There is silence after she finishes. Then a roar of applause like nothing anyone has seen before during any interview at the little Garden on the tongue of the Dragon. “Let’s do it,” exclaims the Chairman.
Her first realization on becoming President of the Garden is the popularity of the Wizard among gardeners across the nation, many of whom are major financial contributors to the Garden. She sees him as a reactionary preventing the garden from keeping up with the times. He runs his department like a feudal lord and yet it’s always one for all and all for one, or something like that! She takes his popularity personally.
At her first full staff performance she promises everyone present a time of prosperity. There are those among us who will not like me from this day forward. But we must face the hard truth, she says. The free ride is over. I am not like those who came before me. I don’t want to be popular, I will not give everyone what they want. There will be no entitlements. The privileges of a select few will no longer be tolerated and here she looks directly at the Wizard and his gardeners, who always sit together and are said to rarely fraternize with other employees. We don’t work in a feudal manor but in a democratically run, economic public venture. “We are here,” she reiterates, “for the public, and not for a select few who do what pleases them at the public’s expense. Having said this, I assure you this will be a time of peace.” Someone coughs, someone rustles papers but no one says a word. That is until the Wizards stands and leaves the room, the gardeners following. Then the room explodes with the voices of excited people.
Her first official act is to move the office of the President from a modest room on the second floor of the manor house where the business offices are located, to the wood paneled conference room at the end of the hall. This room was once the master bedroom where King Total Power’s man bedded with his wife in former times. The views of the river and the bridge are spectacular. This house, as well as the other manor house on the former estate, which is about to become a restaurant, had belonged to the son of a poor man, a self made officer of an Oil King later called Total Power. The wife of the officer, on his death, donated the houses and gardens to the city of New Draak. The President feels at home in the former office of one of Total Power’s men. On the wall behind her huge mahogany desk, she hangs a framed poster with these words: Change Is Good. In the days to come she will have T-shirts bearing these same words above the Garden’s new logo, created by a well known marketing firm, a silver dollar on which the green razor sharp blades of grass are embossed. On the day she introduces the T-Shirt to the staff, she manifests her sense of humor by telling them, “What could be more horticultural! What could be more cutting edge! Of course you all recognize my mantra.” The gardeners nod their heads knowingly. They see change in the world they work in. But it’s obvious the new President doesn’t have nature’s changes in mind. Among themselves they say, “Change is Inevitable, but it’s not always good.”

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