Lily of the Valley

The late Christopher Robin and I lived in a strangely elongated property which discretely sat comfortably in a downtown suburb of the capital. A long high and roughly hewn, pink granite wall, ran for most of the length of the farm. For that’s what it was for my father; a farm. The farm he had always wanted. The one he was robbed of, never had and had so much longed for. It was small for a farm so we called it a ‘market garden’. This title conferred a certain professionalism, neither with pretention, nor betraying the actual acreage of the enterprise.

At the very north end an enclave, formed by high pink granite walls, roughy hewn blocks, neatly arranged and perfectly pointed with cement, contained a very special place. It was, it seemed to me, only popular once a year. Early in the spring this little enclave became a hive of activity. In the cool air and slight, acid, sandy and well composted soil, grew the capital’s only ‘Muguet’.

My father sold hundreds of sprigs for that festival of spring, so french and so perverted and stolen from the old religion. All the ladies and girls sported my Papa’s muguet in their hair or in their coiffe and then men squeezed them into the finicky little lapel button holes sewed only by the more discerning tailors of the day.

The real value of these :”Lilies of the Valley” for me was nothing to do with workers day. It was the anchor: ~ Any morning I could walk across the large vegetable garden, brushing against the aromatic lavender and rosemary bushes that hardly hid my silhouette from the rising sun. Quietly on my own I could enter, through a small doorless arch, this paradise in between simple earthbound walls and feel the cool, damp aroma, so powerful when your height puts your nose so close to the little flowers.

If life called, time rushed towards school time and other imperatives tried to interrupt this precious moment, if nothing else, not your body, then your mind and your heart stayed firmly planted in amongst those most sweetly fragranced, small delicate annual apparitions that appeared, strangely every year in the cool calmness and sweetness of our little enclosure. My spirit still inhales these perfumes and feels these delicacies.


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