I’d telephoned before calling round to see a friend. “I was just going out to talk to the tomatoes,” she said.
A few minutes later we were sitting in comfortable chairs in her front room and looking out into the garden. Talking to the tomatoes hadn’t taken very long.
It must be quite therapeutic – plants don’t answer back and don’t give away any of the confidences you’ve told them.
Seeing that I was looking at bird feeders of an unusual design, she told me that they were made to stop squirrels from stealing the nuts.
“Squirrels may look nice and cute but they’re a menace with all the damage they do” she said.
She knew someone who had been nearly bankrupted by a squirrel getting into the roof space and chewing completely through a rafter.
It cost thousands to put it right.
Warned by this, my friend now makes every effort to scare them away – even to the extent of keeping a high power loaded water pistol at the ready.
“They don’t like getting wet,” she said.
As often happens, the conversation drifted over several subjects including lost library cards and how easy it is to forget to pick up the card after having used one of those self-service machines.
We agreed that although they may be labour-saving and faster, we didn’t like the loss of personal service and the opportunity to have a conversation with a member of the human race.
“The same applies with banks, you’re no longer able to see the manager and swear at him when something goes wrong,” she said.
As I was leaving to return home, she was again heading outside to speak to the tomatoes.
“You won’t quote my name will you?”
I promised that I wouldn’t do that and threatened that I might instead refer to her as being an elderly lady.
She smiled at that and suggested “One of the oldest residents in Wetherby.” I left her laughing and cheerful.
Wetherby still has interesting characters and they make life worth living.