Solo [West Street] The Smell of Memories

Oleander's 2nd job thread for Spring 517 AV

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[West Street] The Smell of Memories

Postby Oleander Soleran on April 26th, 2017, 7:24 pm

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19.-21. Spring 517
On the days following the clearing of Anna’s attic, Oleander dug through his supplies and made plans for what to do with the rest of the garden. He barely had any resources to work with - some herb seeds, some flower seeds, but without a garden to his own house, he might as well use them for Anna’s garden. It would be his project, and the widow had agreed to give him free reign as soon as she had seen the small spot he had prepared under her window. Oleander was by no means a perfect gardener; all he had ever done was keeping his own small square of grass and beds in order and learning from trial and error.

He assembled some seeds from pouches he had brought from Mithryn – nothing fancy, the usual herbs, some of which smelled nice or had pretty flowers. Anna would not need most of them for their medicinal properties, so he stuck with those that remotely were something to look at, too, and threw in some chamomile and fennels for a tea that most old people fancied since it eased bellyaches.

Oleander was reluctant about keeping lavender around, since it smelled so strongly that it threatened to cover up the tolm he loved so much, but Hortense had gladly taken over and had a supply of the purple flower and its seeds in small pouches in the wardrobe, between her own clothes. Oleander borrowed some from her and bought bulbs for tulips, crocuses and daffodils from a neighbour. They were plants he had never cared to keep in his own garden for their lack of applied use, despite Hortense’s urges to “make it pretty for once”. Other gardens, however, were overflowing with these flowers in colourful varieties, so he supposed they were not especially hard to grow. For an extra copper, the neighbour had told him that tulips and crocuses liked sand with their soil and daffodils liked their ground a little wetter than the rest. As a final piece, he purchased a small peony plant from the market, already in surprisingly full rosy-and-white bloom. Nobody told him that peonies were best planted in autumn, and he mainly purchased it to have something in the garden that would be pretty right away.

And tolm – yes, tolm was also pretty when it bloomed in summer. He always had the seeds with him, the one and only tether to his mother.

Anna smiled as she spied him rounding the corner. She was hunched over the small flowerbed he had set up underneath her bedroom manor, the ancient watering can in her hands. “Oleander, boy! It’s so good to see you. Have you come to bring new wonders to this wilderness?”

“Precisely,” Oleander replied, uncharacteristically enthusiastic. He gently took the can from Anna’s hand and put it down while she got up. “You don’t need to water the orchid every day”, he explained to her, “only the roses, until they’ve taken root properly.”

She nodded. “Can I help you with anything today, boy?”

“No”, Oleander said, then corrected: “At least not yet. Today I need to dig the garden over, and that’s mostly hard work. You can help me when I set the bulbs, so you’ll know which spots to water later.”

LEDGER:
Secret :
1,5 GM for common plant seeds/bulbs
7 SM for a common starter plant
Last edited by Oleander Soleran on June 18th, 2017, 4:40 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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[West Street] The Smell of Memories

Postby Oleander Soleran on June 18th, 2017, 2:55 pm

He decided to part the garden into different areas, so the work would be less overwhelming. Several areas of flowers, but only ever one sort in a bed. He did not know decorative flowers well enough to tell which liked to grow together and which quelled each other’s development. Better safe than sorry. He was planning to arrange his flowerbeds around the corners and edges of the garden, with a little bit of space to set up a hedge later. Boxwood, maybe, something small that required little maintenance… An aspect he could worry about another time. Instead, he partitioned the areas for tulips, crocuses and daffodils by the street – the crocuses towards the left, daffodils to the right, the tulips to the left and right of the path leading up to the house. All of them were spring flowers, their bulbs could be dug out when the flowers withered and replanted the next year. He could pant different plants in the same spots in summer. He roughly outlined the beds with the same pebbles he had used for the flowerbed under the window, just so he would later remember what he had planned.

He wanted to plant the lavender underneath the second window – the kitchen lay on the other side. In the middle of the garden, he wanted a round bed for herbs, mainly because that was where Anna’s huge thyme grew. He neither wanted to dig it out, nor did he want to burn it down completely. But it was spring, and thus, the perfect time to cut back the monstrous plant to a reasonable size.

For the task, he borrowed a knife with a toothed blade and scissors from Anna’s tool shack. With the scissors, he nipped off the smaller twigs that had strayed into every imaginable direction. A shoot here, a bit of green there – until the wilderness of one plant had turned into something a little more neat. Then, he grasped the knife and started sawing away at the outermost ligneous parts of the plant. There was a chance that any woodened stems he cut off would not grow back, something one had to avoid when regularly cutting back a tree, but it was precisely what he wanted to achieve with the thyme: He was hoping to slim it down a little, even for future seasons. In some cases, he accidentally cut off stems he had not meant to take away, and once, he nicked a finger in the process. He dropped the knife and instinctively sucked on the finger, keeping the curses internal.

Anna was seated on her garden chair again, watching him with curiosity. For a moment, she looked worried, but when she realized that the cut was nothing serious, she stifled a smile behind his back.

Once finished with the thyme, Oleander began to dig the garden over with the same spade he had used the other day, as well as a hand shovel. The tangled mess of grass, clover and dandelion ran deep, and he slaved two hours over the first flowerbed. Once he had opened up the earth, he used the hand shovel to break loose the chunks, then tore the individual roots from the earth. He did not have replacement for the soil, and simply digging it over or tearing the weeds from it would not suffice, the same small evildoers would re-emerge faster than he could watch. In order to have even the slightest chance to get them under control, he needed to be more throughout.
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[West Street] The Smell of Memories

Postby Oleander Soleran on June 18th, 2017, 3:38 pm

After the initial struggle, Oleander had cleared the first of the flowerbeds, the one he intended for the daffodils. The neighbour he had acquired the bulbs from had promised him beautiful yellow flowers that bloomed for several weeks in spring and attracted bees. Oleander dug holes two hands deep and one hand apart and beckoned Anna closer.


“This is where I plant the first flowers, Anna,” he explained,
“you’ll need to water them daily, and try not to let the weeds overtake them before they can properly grow.” With her help, he set the bulbs into the holes and covered them with earth. The entire bed was a little lower than the rest of the garden since it lacked the cover of grass, and once again, he set the edges with small, white stones to keep the borders intact and continue the style he had decided on earlier.

When the first flowerbed was finished, it was well past noon, and while Anna had no food to spare, she kept Oleander supplied on water. While they waited for the relative heat of the spring sun to pass its highest point, they sat in the shadow together with a glass and talked.

“I can see that you’re not gardening for the first time, boy”, Anna remarked, “where did you learn it?”


“Oh, I picked things up here and there”, Oleander replied, waving it off,
“I grew up in a slightly more rural place, and gardening is not my specialty. I’m actually more into herbs than I am into grass and roses.”

“Then why do you take jobs from the communal message board instead of working as a gardener or herbalist?”, Anna asked with honest curiosity.

Oleander’s voice took on a bitter undertone as he answered that question.
“I tried, but times are dire. Nobody is willing to bet their money on a boy who looks just as likely to steal apples as he is to harvest them.”

“I could give you a reference if that helps-“

Oleander shook his head and smiled a tiny, rueful smile.
“Even so, there is no money to pay me with. I do your garden out of personal interest and for the money you offered beforehand, but even you would not have hired me as a gardener. Don’t try to deny it”, he cut her off as she started to shake her head and opened her mouth to reply,
“because we both know you wouldn’t.”

She bit on her lower lip thoughtfully, then said: “Well, you can still have that reference when times get more plentiful again.”


“Thank you. I might try to earn my money gardening while I save up to be allowed into the university. Once I’ve gotten my education there, apothecaries are bound to accept me as an apprentice or aid in their businesses.” It was the only plan he had.
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[West Street] The Smell of Memories

Postby Oleander Soleran on June 18th, 2017, 3:58 pm

The afternoon passed similarly to how the morning had – arduous digging and sweat, sorting through bundles of root chunks of weed. He through all the bad plants into a bucket, the content of which he dumped on a pile behind the house several times over the course of the day. The area was very sandy, few plants he knew would grow here, but at least it would be safe to start a small fire and burn the weeds once dried later. He also took several handfuls of sand towards the front garden, where he would later mix them in with the soil for the crocuses and tulips.

The act of digging took him longer this time, since he was worn out and tired, but the actual planting of the crocus bulbs and the peony and arrangement of pebbles around the borders of the bed grew faster as he gathered routine. By the time the shadows of evening settled in, he had almost finished the flowerbeds marking the garden’s border. He was certain that his limbs would feel sore from wear they were unused to the next day, so he told Anna to expect him back the day after, when he would hopefully be refreshed, and his strength replenished.

- - -


Indeed, a certain soreness plagued him the next day, and though Hortense made fun of him and he was certain that any reputable worker would have gotten a good laugh out of a boy’s muzzle ache after gardening of all things, he still felt proud of the work he was doing. If his muscles ached, then at the very least that meant he was pulling through with his new job.

The next time he visited Anna’s house, she was not there, but that did not keep Oleander from accessing the tool shack and continuing his work. The widow had been welcoming before, and he was not breaking into her house, so he supposed she would not mind him.

When the widow returned from her small market stroll, she found the boy covered in dirt from head to toe. Oleander, while digging through the grass and weed surrounding the thyme, had stumbled across one of the brush’s large ligneous roots and fallen face-first into a pile of freshly loosened earth. She could not help but laugh, but Oleander simply shrugged it off and drove his shovel back into the ground with a stoic expression. He could still feel remnants of soreness, but he wanted to get the last plants into the earth so that all flowers could bloom this year.

The space he cleared was almost circular, but the task became more arduous the closer he got to the thyme. The plant’s roots stretched far, and Oleander had to be careful not to break any of them if he wanted to keep the herb alive. He used the hand shovel for the most part, tunnelling around the large thyme roots as he removed those that belonged to grass and weed. He planted starflowers here, leopard’s bane and basil, fennel and chamomile, all assembled around the thyme. In the final spot, he set the tolm, and planting the seed, he could almost smell the familiar scent of the flowers. For Oleander, no garden was complete without tolm.
Last edited by Oleander Soleran on June 18th, 2017, 4:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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[West Street] The Smell of Memories

Postby Oleander Soleran on June 18th, 2017, 4:27 pm

The bed designated for the lavender was elongated, since Oleander knew the flower liked to spread a little on its own. It would hardly crawl across the grass and threaten the rest of his setup, but he allowed it some space within its own boundaries.

“What’s this one?”, Anna asked behind him, and Oleander jumped a little, caught up as he had been in his work. She did that from time to time – remind him to take a break, have a glass of water, or simply tell her what he was planting in her garden.

“Lavender”, he replied, not stopping what he was doing. With his hands, he dug another small hole in the loose, slightly moist earth and dropped some of the blue seeds in it. “Certainly you know that one.”

Anna took some of the seeds out of his hand, rubbed them between two fingers and held them close to her nose. She was quiet for a moment, as if a current had washed her down the stream of memory. When she spoke again, she still looked a little distant. “Do you know that feeling when a certain smell takes you back home?”, she asked him.

“Yes”, Oleander simply replied.

“When we married, I wore a crown of lavender,” Anna said. “It was in the middle of summer, and even when everything faded, all those distant relatives, the sun, my husbands, the dream of children to weave flower crowns for, the scent will always take me back to that day, back when the world was still beautiful for me.” She sighed. “I forbade him from planting it in our garden. With the fond memories came the sad ones, and I was reluctant to be reminded of the luck we could never feel again to that extent.”

“Oh”, Oleander said, “I’m sorry. I can dig it out again if you want, plant something different…”

“No”, Anna countered, “Don’t. Maybe it’s time I change my ways, allow my memories back in. All of them, the bad ones and the good ones. After all, I love that smell.”

He nodded silently.

“Which is yours? The smell of your memories?”

She probably expected him to say something like “freshly baked bread” or “my girlfriend’s perfume”, but all he said was: “Tolm. It’s what my mother smelled like.”

Anna never inquired what had happened to his mother, nor did she comment on how the smell of tolm, while strong, was not especially pleasant. Oleander was grateful for it.

He did not bother to try and eradicate the weeds from the rest of the garden. He would leave them in between the grass, but before he could call his work finished, the produced an old scythe from the shack and awkwardly tried to shorten the grass with it. Anna watched him for a moment, then took the tool from him, recognizing that he had never wielded it before.

“You need to peen it first”, she told him, and when he looked at her with confusion, she gathered a piece of wood and a hammer from the shack and used them to sharpen the scythe for him. “It requires precision”, she let him know, “and takes some practise. You can do it next time.” Once satisfied, she used a whetstone to finish sharpening the blade, then showed Oleander how to hold it in order to mow the grass. She stood behind him and lead his arms at first, swinging the scythe in wide circular motions close to the ground, first slowly, then a little faster. Finally, she stepped away while Oleander slowly found a rhythm. It worked best when he bent over a little and kept his feet shoulder-width apart. The scythe had just the right length for him, while it would have been too long for Anna – apparently, her husband had approximately shared Oleander’s size.

Once he knew how to use the scythe, shortening the unruly blades of grass and stems of daffodil in Anna’s small garden did not take long. He finished by evening, and finally, they sat together outside her house and watched the sun set unanimous silence.

Unnoticed by either of them, a single daffodil leaf poked its tip through the earth of its flowerbed.
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[West Street] The Smell of Memories

Postby Karyk on June 25th, 2017, 1:26 pm

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Oleander Soleran
Skills
Planning: 3
Botany: 1
Teaching: 1
Gardening: 4
Observation: 1
Leadership: 1
Socialization: 2
Lores
Botany: Tulips and crocuses like sandy soil
Botany: Daffodils like wetter soil
Gardening: Give plants space when you don't know how much they take up
Gardening: How to prune an overgrown Thyme
Anna: Has a standing offer for job reference in Zeltiva
Botany: Lavender likes to spread
Anna: Remembers her wedding when she smells lavender
Gardening: How to peen a scythe
Miscellaneous


 
Notes and Comments
CS Checkmarked: ✓
CS Reviewed by Me: ✓
Season Request was Submitted for Grade: Summer 517
Season of last IC post: Summer 517
Season of last Paid Seasonal Expense: Spring 517
Eligible for grade? Yes


A fun thread. Hopefully Oleo can return to take her up on that job reference. Please mark your post as graded.
Follow your heart, and the plot will follow.
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