Second thoughts can be wonderful things.
Take our plans to put in a new pool.
Once the glow of my Bloody Mary-palooza had worn off…
…and Michael had taken a long hard look at the numbers, we decided it was a tad premature to think about putting in a pool after all.
But there were plenty of other things to occupy our time—and empty our bank account.
To wit: when we returned to the island in May we were struck by how seedy the garden had become.
Admittedly, in Vieques a garden could become overgrown in approximately two minutes. Jane claimed you could actually watch plants grow on the island, and we almost believed her.
I know I’ve told you about our breadfruit tree before, but humor me one more time: the thing grew so fast we had to have it topped every four to six months to keep it from blocking our view of the big island. And when I say “topped,” I don’t mean a couple of feet each time; I mean ten feet or more. Every six months.
Think about it.
When we bought the house its garden boasted an amazing array of trees—avocado, lime, banana, papaya and mimosa, as well as the aforementioned mango and breadfruit—not to mention many smaller shrubs and plants that flower at various times of the year.
But in the intervening years a few of these trees had met their maker.
The biggest loss was our avocado tree, which stood in isolated splendor in the middle of the side yard.
One winter it had looked perfectly healthy…
…the next it was leafless and gaunt.
We couldn’t figure it out. How could such a large, seemingly robust tree suddenly bite the dust?
Our neighbor, red-nosed and cheerful as ever, diagnosed termites, which struck us as highly unlikely until we walked around to the side of the tree he was pointing to and were treated to the sight of a massive termite nest perched high in its ghostly branches.
Further investigation revealed an almost hollow trunk.
Goodbye homemade guacamole.
Next our small but attractive papaya tree began looking frayed around the edges, and soon it had to be removed too.
The place was a mess.
And now it was time for action.
We had never really had a gardener per se—Jane had just asked her handyman to mow the yard and trim the shrubs when they crossed the line from “picturesque” to “out of control”—but it occurred to us now that maybe we needed one.
And yet–a gardener. Really?
It sounded so lah-ti-dah, so unlike our lives in D.C. where we cleaned our own apartments, washed our own cars and tended our own little balcony gardens ourselves.
But the house in Vieques was a business, we told ourselves—a business whose success depended on things like curb appeal.
Okay. Now that we had convinced ourselves we needed a gardener, how to find one?
As always, we asked Jane first, but she had no suggestions for us. So we called Corinne, our neighbor in the house below. She didn’t have any ideas either, but she knew someone who absolutely swore by a guy named Francisco.
According to Corinne’s friend, Francisco was a professional gardener who had been trained in Florida.
At Disney World in fact.
That should have been our first clue.