The Flowers

My partner takes a yearly holiday visiting her beloved Appalachian Mountains for a month in the Autumn, or as she refers to it, ‘The Fall’. This is the time of year of course when everything that has been on the trees for the year falls off them, in varying shades of scarlet, vermilion, peach, orange, lemon and even ginger. When we first met, I was in mid-stream, so I took myself off to deepest India for a new mind and she went off to walk the Appalachian Trail, alone, which is a hike in the eastern US of about 2170 miles from Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to Mt Katahdin in central Maine. The highest point she went over was Mt Washington at over 6,000ft. A long way for a lone woman.

This month of solitude every now and then gives me a chance to wind down, or wind up, as the case may be. For the last few years it’s involved me scouring tree nurseries to further enhance my patch of wilderness. The routine of being alone is different. A host of bachelor stuff starts to happen again. Things get left where they’re handy, and more to the point, where I can find them. Sometimes I think that I’m only using one plate, one set of cutlery and a mug. Not true perhaps, but close. There’s plenty of entertainment.. huge amounts of it.. too much in fact, and late at night, the baseball season is fast coming to its usual lofty finale.

I’m vaguely aware of when she’s coming back. At first it’s a long way off, but then it all seems to cascade in as fast as I can count to ten. This year was no different. I thought about buying flowers a few days beforehand, but then I thought that I’d better save that till the last day, not wanting them to be looking tired on her return. Just before she left, one of the toilets sprang a leak, and I’d rubbed the bottle of my local plumbing genie to come and fix it. He was really busy but promised that he’d do it within a week or two. When I rang him again a couple of weeks later, he’d done his back in, but promised me he’d be there. Eventually, through no real fault of his own, we got down to it the day before her return.

Obviously, fixing the loo was the priority, and neither of us thought that it would take that long… but if I’d thought about it, this has been the loo which has given me the most problems in my life. I bought the house when I was finally exiled from England. A long story for another day. The house was a virtual shell, so at least 2 toilets were needed. I bought these in a little designer bathroom shop in the middle of Nottingham. One of them is a replica Victorian willow pattern loo, and is still in its box in the attic. The other was put into the house straight away… by a cowboy. It’s a very finicky little Italian job with different plumbing than a normal loo, which means that normal pipes and fittings have to be botched onto it. Ideal stuff for a cowboy.

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