Gardening – and various other accidents

Column by Kaare Askildt

            Gardening, now that is something that I believe I have experience with. However, Marion is of a different opinion. Every time I bring up the topic of gardening and lawn maintenance, she reminds me of the time when I drove over her newly-planted apple tree with my garden tractor, reducing it to what resembled a cluster of toothpicks. Oh well, we had another apple tree.

            Just to make sure of that, I will check with her before I apply any anti-bug spray on her roses. She brings up the time when I accidentally (to me it was anyway) painted the entire trunk of her beautiful pink rose bush with an insecticide, causing the bush to have a slow death.

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            I have been told that I can sit in a comfy chair in our yard while she’s working in the garden, and only make some useful suggestions when asked, and only when asked. Meanie!

            However, Marion has conceded that I will be in charge of the strawberries and tomatoes. Well, let me rephrase that, she will plant them and I’ll maintain them.

            And of course I’ll fertilize, water and generally work with the tomatoes to ensure a great crop! We just love our homegrown tomatoes! Perhaps you are wondering how the name “ketchup” came about? It happened one early fall night – three ripe tomatoes were rolling down a street when one of them, who was lagging behind, got squashed by a car. The other two who being slightly ahead, stopped, looked back at the squashed tomato and said: “come on ketch-up!” Oh stop your groaning!

            I think Mother Nature and Father Winter were having another disagreement! The sun was shining in a bright blue sky; the temperature had risen to over 20 degrees Celsius. The grass had started to jump out of the ground, the trees had started budding, the birds were building nests and the robins tried pulling worms. Then – kaboom! The temperature during the day suddenly dropped, with temperatures below freezing at night keeping the frost in the ground! However, it seemed that they might have come to an agreement as the temperature has now climbed up again! As a male, Father Winter should know by now that he can never win an argument with a female! Even our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as a self-proclaimed feminist, knows that!

            Ole’s great-grandfather came to Canada in the late 1800s and developed a large farm on the flat Saskatchewan prairie. Ole had operated the farm successfully for many years, and then turned the farm over to his son Lars. Ole didn’t have to worry about seeding the fields that spring, so he travelled back to visit his long lost relatives in Norway, and while there, decided to go hiking in the mountains.

            He was ascending a large mountain in Hardanger, when he slipped on a wet rock and fell over the edge of a 500-foot cliff. He fell 20 feet and was able to grab hold of a dwarfed birch tree that was growing out of a crag in the mountainside. There he was, hanging on and looking down at the deep Hardanger Fjord below, and he knew that if he lost his grip on the birch tree he would fall to his certain death.

            His hands started to perspire and as he started to lose his grip on the birch tree, he yelled out, “Help, help! Is anybody up there?”

            He heard a deep booming voice that was echoing out the fjord saying, “I’m here Ole, it’s the Lord! You’ll be saved! Have faith and let go of that birch tree!” Ole looked down at the fjord and back up at the top of the mountain, and called out, “Is anyone else up there?”

*****

            Lars was a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" and had reached the final plateau. If he answered the next question correctly, he would win $1,000,000. If he answered incorrectly, he would pocket only the $25,000 milestone money. The million dollar question was, "Which of the following species of birds does not build its own nest, but instead lays its eggs in the nests of other birds? Is it:

            A) the condor

            B) the buzzard

            C) the cuckoo

            D) the vulture?"

            Lars did not know the answer. He had used up his “50/50 Lifeline” and his “Ask the Audience” Lifeline. All that remained was his “Phone-a-Friend” Lifeline. He hoped he would not have to use it because his friend was Ole, who was not the sharpest nail in the bin. But he had no alternative. He called Ole and gave him the question and the four choices. Ole responded unhesitatingly: "That's easy – it is the cuckoo."

            Lars had to make a decision and make it fast. Considering that Ole was not the smartest Norwegian, Lars was reluctant to use the answer. But his friend had responded with such confidence that Lars was convinced.

            Crossing his fingers, Lars said, "C: The cuckoo."

            "Is that your final answer?"

            "Yes, that is my final answer."

            "That answer is absolutely correct! You are now a millionaire!"

            Three days later, Lars hosted a party for his family and friends, including Ole, who had helped him win the million dollars.

            "Ole, I just do not know how to thank you," said Lars. "How did you happen to know the right answer?"

            "Oh, come on," said Ole. "Everybody knows that the cuckoos don't build nests. They live in the clocks!"