The arrival of autumn began to announce itself in the garden. The oaks and maples had slowly begun to strip themselves, dropping a leaf here and there on the green lawn surrounding the pond.
A young couple, who used to visit the solitude of the garden to find calm, went to visit the gardener.
‘Forgive us for bothering you, gardener, but we consider you to be wise and good and we would like you to give us some advise on the new life my beloved and I are going to begin. Very soon we will join our lives in matrimony, and we would be grateful if you could tell us how to nurture our love so that in time it does not wither.’
‘Nobody is wise and good’ answered the gardener with a smile. ‘Wisdom and goodness are like holes in the ground: the bigger it is, the emptier you find it. But, as you have asked for my advice, I will tell you what life has shown me. Sometimes by hard lessons, and other times with a caress’
Inviting them to sit down on the grass, he told them: ‘Be careful that your love is not like that the mistletoe has for the oak, sinking in its trunk to suck its sap and strength. Nor let it be like the love of the bramble for the pine shoot, growing and wrapping around it and suffocating it between its spines.
‘Rather, aim for a love like that of the tree. Each one embraces the earth with its own roots, and rises up to the morning sun with arms outstretched towards the sky, giving thanks for each new dawn.
‘Take care to plant your roots a sufficient distance from each other, in case the branches of the one makes the others flee, and it has to twist it’s trunk and cannot grow towards the clouds.
‘Be careful that you keep the correct distance, so that the earth can sufficiently dampen your roots and the wind can clean the dry leaves from the branches. So that you can grow a large and sturdy crown to give shade to travelers and nests for the birds in the sky, and so that when you have grown and scattered your seeds to the wind, the ends of your branches will touch one another in the high reaches, and you can rejoice at the sound of the Dance of Life’.
The Gardener-Grian 1996 (originally published as El Jardinero by Ediciones Obelisco)
English translation: Alicia Valeda and Graham Lomas 1998