I went to visit the Area Hermit recently to pick up a pepper plant he’d babysat for me while we were in Japan. He’d given me the plant as a welcome present, and I’d left it with him rather than risk the thing dying while I was away. So I went to the gate and called him -it’s always better not to startle a seventy year old hermit, especially one with a gun and a large dog- and after a few minutes he emerged.
“You forgot to put a hole in it.”
“Pardon?”
“The pepper plant. You forgot to put a hole in the pot.”
Oops. Just before I went to Japan, I’d realised the terracotta pot the plant came in was a bit small, so I’d quickly re-potted it in a big bucket I’d got free from a flower shop before delivering it to The Hermit, neglecting the obvious point that the bucket was designed for cut flowers, and as such wouldn’t have holes in the bottom.
“I kept watering the thing and feeding it, and it kept dyin’. Then I looked at the bottom. Poor thing was drownin’”*
“Oops. Sorry.”
“So I shot it.”
“Er…”
“I got my air gun and shot two holes in the bottom of the pot. It’s happy now”
He handed me the plant. With pot.
“Put holes in the bottom next time”
He’s happy we’re back. He tells me most of the neighbours think he’s strange.

*Of course he didn’t say “Drownin’” as he was speaking German. Frankly the whole of this exchange does lose a lot in translation from the original dialect.

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