The game of telephone

Last night, I ran into our landlord, who was frantically cutting our front yard as rain started to fall on Iowa City. He stopped the mower long enough to say hello.

“I hope we haven’t messed you up with all our containers back there,” I said, tilting my head toward the back yard.

“Not a problem at all,” he said. “If something gets in my way, I move it and put it back. No big deal.”

“We just wanted to see if we could save some of that stuff from the black walnut tree,” I said.

“That tree’ll kill stuff,” he said. “Especially tomatoes.”

“And peppers, and eggplant,” I said. “We have all that stuff back there.”

“Wow,” he said. “Well, I was really surprised when you guys put the garden on that side.”

He was surprised?

“Oh,” I replied. “Steve thought that was where you wanted us to put it.”

“No way,” he said. “I thought you’d put it against the other fence. As far from that tree as possible.”

I giggled. “Right. Well, it’s a big experiment, after all.”

“Yep,” he said. “You’ve got to just see what grows!” With that, he restarted the mower and headed around the side of the house.

Apparently the first rule of gardening is this: clarify exactly what fence the landlord means before you dig.

I’m still giggling. And I probably ought to have followed him and apologized for how pissed I was.


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