The Bar Chronicles: #14, A ‘One Beer’ Night

Rock ‘n roll, ants and war…we covered all the bases…except baseball.

Bar Night 2

Another evening of beer and brotherhood convened at Caverly’s Irish Pub on South Avenue in Rochester. Here, the beer is reasonable, the people friendly and the ‘bar dog’ can sniff only as high as your knees.

Caverly’s is cozy and casual with a few round tables scattered about a high bar rising over a well-worn hardwood floor, a common man’s pub. The bar area, itself, is a colorful array of tap handles and an oversized chalkboard menu featuring an ample variety of brews.

Bar TAps

With beer in hands, we raised our glasses and cheered each other in genuine fashion. These nights of friendship give us Seniors a chance to get caught up with each other. Sometimes, we learn something new, sometimes we’re surprised and sometimes it’s both.

Tonight was just such a night when one of us offered that ‘ants weigh more than humans’. The rest certainly were surprised and showed it, as the ‘huh?’ look spread across our collective brows. But when the source* was cited…well, we learned something new, and ‘ant weight’ aside, we were bemused that someone in our group actually read, ‘Journey To The Ants’.

Does the adjective, ‘eclectic’ apply to a group that can drink beer and discuss ants in the same evening?

And would you be surprised to learn that another traveled 75 miles to see a former Beatle, Paul McCartney, in concert? Remember, we’re products of the 60s, give or take a decade.

As teens, we borrowed the family car and drove around with other music lovers, slapping out rhythms on the dashboard ‘drums’, our mops flopping side to side while head bobbin’ to rock ‘n roll. We still move to the beat when we hear the oldies, but ‘head banging’ today with scarce a wisp, leaves much to be desired.

Detailing an event or destination as vividly as the concert was allows me to feel there’s no need to go there, myself. I often say, facetiously of course, that ‘the listening is the same as the going’. I’ve ‘been to many places that I’ve never been’ with this philosophy.

Unlike war…

One among us went there**, and we deferred to him briefly when the topic surfaced. A cacophony of silence spoke volumes to our lack of personal knowledge of the real horror of war, except for the one. There is no substitute for being there, a loud exception to my ‘philosophy’

We paused with our own thoughts, finished our one beer and called it a night, a rather solemn ending. The summer-like evening air on this fall night was comforting as we took our time to the car. Another enjoyable evening was behind us…

Friendship is a wonderful thing!

Steve

stephen.bottcher@gmail.com

*‘Journey To The Ants’ written by Harvard professor E.O. Wilson
** Viêt Nam

The Old Man and The Garden

garden-gate

I watched him through our kitchen window, an older gentleman standing by the curb. He was looking past our garden gate, admiring the plants, various hydrangea that were reaching the peak of their soft whiteness. Come fall, they will be a delicate pink, then brown, as Mother Nature guides them to dormancy, but for now they are like a fragile lace, petals laying softly, one upon the other.

I’ve noticed him other times, generally during evening walks, exercising at a pace suitable for his years, while enjoying the canvas of colors that our neighborhood becomes after a long, harsh winter. Our garden is a regular stop for him, albeit brief, inspecting the plants for changes, I suppose, as our daylight lengthens and we transition from spring to summer. The garden seems to look its best before sunset.

The idea of introducing myself seemed like the sociable thing to do, but on second thought why interrupt a peaceful interlude with idle chatter?  One can’t look at gardens to appreciate the graceful way its flowers, leaves and branches blend with and balance each other, while in idle conversation. I held back and allowed him to enjoy his solitude and solidarity with our garden, before he resumed his slow walk with a look of satisfaction on his face.

How can one not appreciate the simple beauty of a garden?  On occasion, I’ll sit and watch our hydrangea in an almost meditative state. I become aware of the ground, constantly moving, ever so slowly as I stare, often mesmerized. Hardy sedums creep along the soil, reaching out and claiming new territory with their thick roots and attractive colors. An earthworm appears, if only for a moment. Bugs and spiders (are they the same?) move cautiously across rocks while bees and ants are in a state of constant motion. I’m alerted by a mosquito.

The garden is a rapid version of our own existence. It lives, grows vibrant, weakens and fades, to be replaced by a new variety in time. The cycle of life, I suppose.

As for the old man, I haven’t seen him for weeks.  Things change, others will surely take his place at our gate…or someone’s gate.

srbottch.com

To passersby who enjoy our garden views. I see you through our kitchen window…

The Garden and The Gardener

garden 1 “It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy…”, lyricized the song writer George Gershwin. He must not have been a gardener.

Up and down our Meadowbrook streets, summer gardens are coming into full bloom and it’s not because the gardeners are taking it easy. Soiled fingernails, calloused knees and aching muscles are testimony to the truism that gardeners love getting down and dirty.

My wife is a passionate gardener, one of many in our floral neighborhood. She does her part to make our parcel of land attractive, adding plants to every corner and contour where grass doesn’t grow, enhancing the beauty of our surroundings.

Fanciful colors dot our landscape: passionate pinks, plum purples, baby blues, ravenous reds and a potpourri of whites. Whimsical names like quick fire, limelight, pink diamonds, twist and shout and pinky winky, fill the pages of her ‘green thumb’ notebook.

From spring to fall, there is constant change in our yard. Colors morph from whites to pinks to browns, as plants begin their preparation for dormancy. Even those browns are beautiful, before the petals succumb to Nature and fall reluctantly to the ground.

Brisk winds will undress the heartiest of foliage at season’s end, leaving naked limbs pruned and shaped to perfection. Plants, even tall ones, will disappear under winter blankets. Our patience, once again, will be tested, as the long wait for spring emergence begins.

Gardening is hard work: planting and pruning, watering, weeding and waiting. I’m not a good gardener. I grumble too much about most everything associated with gardening: too many plants, wrong spot, time-consuming, too costly. But I enjoy looking at the results of someone else’s efforts.

From a window, I watch my wife and her helper dig, trim, mulch, water, talk and laugh. I guess the talking and laughing is a byproduct of gardening. It’s good she has a helper, I would make it stressful.

She moves among the plants with maternal instinct, straightening, cleaning, feeding, watching them mature, talking to them tenderly, giving encouragement and support. “You can do this. You can grow and be beautiful!”

Gardening is such a fundamental activity, so natural. It reveals the  creativity and strength of the gardener, herself. The garden brings joy to my wife and love to our home. Every household needs a garden. We have several, thanks to my wife and her hard work. I’m a lucky guy.

srbottch

garden 3