The row of cedars out behind Reynolds House was ravaged by disease a few year ago and many had to be cut down. Just a couple of weeks ago, another cedar had to go; its limbs and trunk are stacked now just outside the black wire fence, against the stone wall that was put in to retain the earth for the row of holly bushes that we believe are more resistant to disease.
The earth that was brought in must have been good earth; the holly bushes are thriving. Luckily, deer don’t like them. The deer also don’t like the flowers that have sprouted from this earth – volunteers, my wife Joan calls them – the residue of some former location, or from a field where the earth came from. The clumps of poppies sway whenever there is a breeze in this protected spot. Some hyacinths have also strayed into the scene, eccentrically purple against the gray of the rock, the green of holly, and the reddish brown of the peated soil.
These volunteers come to mind because I noticed them after our Remembrance Day Service last week, after the School had emptied and things were quiet. Later, driving up island, I noticed how many more of these poppies were swaying in the dusty median of the highway, shuddering but secure as cars passed them. Like many minds, associations my mind makes are perhaps not as random and free as we sometimes think: I thought of the poppies on our lapels, obviously. Similarly: our Grade Two class recites In Flanders Fields, where the poppies grow, at their own special Remembrance Day Service. I thought of the bagpipe lament, Flowers of the Forest, that Bill Buckingham plays, an old old tune lamenting the deaths of so many young men lost in an ancient highland battle. The names we read out at our service, and preserve, the memory blooming again and again, both by accident and by design, like these flowers. Volunteers all.