is an expression I didn’t know until I moved here, and which in New Zeanglish means to mock someone, to tease them, to take them down a notch, which is what I assumed my friend was doing to me when he swore he regularly watered his lemon tree by relieving himself of the night’s last drink or two. The proof’s right there, he said, and it was hard to disagree with the results, if he were telling the truth—his tree positively blazed lemons, unlike ours, which we planted last year and which had a few tentative fruit before the sheep leaned over the fence and took them as their rightful own, and which has looked understandably dispirited since. I’m determined to have lemons in my yard—I think they can revoke your NZ passport if you don’t—and it’s hard to know what to believe when you want to believe. But sure enough, July’s New Zealand Gardener arrives with a piece on lemon trees: apparently, Burt Monro (of The World’s Fastest Indian fame) touted the method, though I notice the writer of that piece distanced himself quickly enough from that advice. Something to do with the nitrogen, supposedly. Maybe it is just wishful thinking. Then again, we put just about anything with food waste in it on the garden—tonight it was chickpea juice or some such that my wife asked me to pour on the tree after dinner before washing the bowl. Give it a try if you want, she added, knowing I’d know what she meant, even if I suspected part of her disapproved. But the days are lengthening, and the tree is by the driveway, in sight of the gate. Are there exposure laws that cover such things if you’re in your own yard? One does wish to avoid misunderstandings with one’s neighbours, or innocent passersby. Harden up, is what any hardy New Zealander would say to me at this point (which, in context, I should add is an idiom which refers only to gathering one’s courage). I can see from only a little time in this gardening thing—and from that subscription to New Zealand Gardener I gifted to my wife—that there is perhaps no end to which some gardeners will not go, and I’m not going to become one of them, I thought firmly to myself, not going down that rabbit hole, though sometimes a rabbit goes by that you can’t resist following, just a little while, just out of intellectual curiosity, and before you know it, if you’re like me, you find yourself in a whole new place, the kids asleep, the emptied chickpea bowl on the driveway, the stars in force in a clear night sky, your back positioned carefully to the gate, whistling in the dark.
AboutA poet and fiction writer, I moved with my wife to New Zealand from the United States in 2004 to teach creative writing. This blog deals with some thoughts on that experience. It will teach you absolutely nothing useful about gardening and, in fact, will probably harm any such efforts. However, if you're interested in my poems, stories and/or my four books, visit me at http://bryanwalpert.com