Some of my fondest childhood memories are from the Collingwood Cemetery. Each weekend when my family would visit my grandmother, my sister and I would be up early on Saturday morning. In order that my father could sleep in, my mother and grandmother would put us in the car and together we would trundle off to the place where my grandfather was buried.
There were taps in various places around the cemetery, and huge metal watering cans sitting on the ground nearby each one. We would run through the rows of headstones until we found a tap, and take great delight in filling the can with the ice-cold water. When it was full (or perhaps half full–a full one must have been too hard for a little girl to carry!) we would lug the water to the small patch of dirt in front of Grandpa’s headstone. I remember pouring it over the red geraniums that had been planted there, sprinkling it all over the fresh ground. I never saw a weed in that tiny garden.
Ever since then I have loved cemeteries. They are always beautiful, quiet spaces with not only a landscape of trees and flowers but a plethora of stories, too. I can spend hours just wandering around reading headstones, seeing the evidence of children lost, epidemics that affected whole clans, and long lives well lived. Some cemeteries, like Greenwood Cemetery in Owen Sound, Ontario even offer self-guided tours that lead you to the resting places of people like Billy Bishop the World War I flying ace, and Harry ‘Apple cheeks’ Lumley, who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1952 to 56. I have ancestors buried there, and our families has visited more than once, whiling away pleasant summer afternoons.
Since those childhood days I have also had great affection for watering cans. They are a perfect companion to a rain barrel–something I have had in my backyard for years. The problem has been finding a really good one; I have tried out all kinds and most have been abysmal failures. Even if the handles stays on, the spout usually falls off, leaving me to drench my poor plants with a harsh deluge of water.
This year my sabbatical was a great reason to invest in a new, good quality watering can. I chose one made by Haws from Lee Valley. It’s smaller than my last one, but looks sturdy and is promised to last. It doesn’t quite look like the watering cans in my memory, but it has comfortable handles and gives a nice delicate sprinkle of water.
I am wondering if, along with my watering can, I might also invest in a few red geraniums this summer. I’ve never grown them before but perhaps I could plant a pot or two of them to sit on the back deck. I think my grandparents would like that.