Friday, September 30, 2011

A Gift of Fruit & Herbs

He walked in early this morning bearing a gift, a potted plant held close to his chest. Short little fella, perhaps seventy, wore a fedora.

Without preamble, "You'a help'a my'a grandson, Sir.." Accent is thick. My Italian is none existent. It takes me a moment to understand what in the heck he means. Then, oh yeah, the kid with the rusty pistol, an old Brazilian Panther. A copy of a Smith, made for their fighter pilots chambered in .38. Nothing special. It took three days of soaking to open the cylinder

I refocus on the old man as he continues, "For this'a help I gives you this'a peach tree and 'da basil I plant'a in the soil, 'cause you'a good man."


He explained the peach tree alone wasn't worthy so he'd seeded basil at its base. His son, he explained, had told him I loved to cook using fresh vegetables (true, cans are for emergencies) and herbs.

We talked, with a bit of difficulty due to his thick accent, for about an hour. We spoke of capers, what makes an excellent tomato for sauces, the best of olive oils, pasta and the use of pasta water as a thickening agent for pan dishes. He explained how his wife used a blender to mix fresh basil and olive oil and froze the mixture in ice trays to later thaw for a fresh infusion in her preparations.

We spoke of spring gardens, slugs and bugs. He gave instructions on the planting of the peach tree; not before spring. My peach tree, I understand, will produce small but plentiful extremely sweet peaches in three years.

In the above blurry picture I'm pointing out the basil...he told me to transplant it when it sprouted three 'leaf'as.'

I have a new friend.


  1. It's encounters like that which make it all worthwhile. What a great story!

  2. Makes you have a little hope after all.

  3. Rev. Paul, isn't that a fact. He made my day. Thanks for the comment.

    dannie, yes ma'am it sure does....thank you for dropping in and please come back. I run over and check out your blog.

  4. When you help somebody out, small or large, rich or poor, nobody or famous, you never know who else is behind them, or how far in life they will go. Makes me sad when big companies tend to give the small guy the brush off. Not smart thing to do, they may become rich and famous, or have powerful family and friends. Never know who takes a liking to you for helping that helpless person out.

  5. Anon, very true my friend. Thank you for the kind comment.

  6. That's touching. Makes me sad that good souls like that are fewer and farther between in generations that followed his.

  7. A textbook example of true class and graciousness.

  8. @Mermaid - Good souls are out there, they are just harder to spot through the forest mediocrity. He sounds like the sort I would love to drink wine with and listen to his life story.

  9. ahhh...dear friend - ya know i get all mushy and emotional with stuff like this.

    i truly believe that we must treat all strangers as if they were Jesus - what if this stranger really is Jesus? - that's what i try to keep in my mind at all times.

    even if they aren't Jesus - and are just people who might be able to teach us something that we don't already know - then THAT is a visit from Jesus.

    and just so y'all (a word i stole from MDR) don't think that i am some kind of Jesus Freak - i'm not! but i love some of the stuff that Jesus taught. i love some of the stuff that Rudolph Steiner taught. not that i am comparing the two.

    anyway - there is nothing as lovely as a stranger showing up bearing gifts AFTER you have done something lovely without even knowing it....

    good job, my friend. really good job. i hope that you meet up with this man again. he has much to teach.

    your friend,

  10. MDR, he is indeed a cool old man. I look forward to many more visits. I need to get around to your blog too. Hope you feel better. Thanks.

    Mermaid, yes, sweet lady, it is a shame they're kind are fewer and fewer. It was an enjoyable talk. Thank you.

    Odysseus, so true. Thank you.

    Kymber, Thank you. I too hope he returns. Matter of fact I'm sure he will. You mentioned treating strangers as if they were the embodiment of Christ...the was a lesson of my late mother. It stuck, for the most part. I try always to be as nice as possible to a person until they give me reasons otherwise.