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The Treasured Garden 

Julia had chosen to live in Tenerife many years ago, partly because of health problems which plagued her retirement. The volcanic properties in the soil were said to give relief to people with various niggling ailments. Julia was very happy in her seaside village apartment which was situated on the ground floor. She could see the sparkling sea below the cliff top from her window and also a small open plan garden outside the front of the building. Of course, the little garden really belonged to everyone in the building but nobody seemed interested in cultivating it.

Julia remembered her childhood days quite often; her Dad had a garden full of shrubs and flowers, his favorites were roses and lily of the valley. The previous owner of Julia’s apartment had planted pink and white oleander shrubs which created an intoxicating perfume when they flowered. There were spaces at the front for smaller plants, giving Julia the idea of creating colour at the lower boundary level of the small garden.

The following week Julia visited the garden centre with her friend. So many lovely flowering plants were on display making it difficult to choose. Julia finally chose six geraniums, three red and three orange to fill the gaps between the shrubs in the small garden. She planted then the next day and soon after they were bedded down the other people in her building remarked on their colourful appearance. Two stray cats; one black and one ginger watched from across the road with mild curiosity. They were waiting in anticipation of the next meal which Julia always remembered to give them, usually breakfast and dinner each day. One of the neighbors did not approve ” We should call this place – Cat’s Café” she said, but there was no retaliation on Julia’s part, she only smiled. Life was too short to bear petty grudges.

Within a week the flowers were no longer a talking point, instead they became part of the very day scenery. Unfortunately a shocking event shattered the peace. Two for the pretty geraniums had been stolen, lifted bodily, complete with their root ball from the soil. Julia asked herself “How could a person sink so low?” It was a difficult mystery to solve and there was no feasible answer. The neighbour who disapproved of stray cats said “It must have been those boat people who are living here illegally, they steal anything”. Julia was not convinced, “They get blamed all the time” she said.

Pablo who owned the opposite building missed very little and he made it his business to watch not only the tenants in his own building but also the daily activities of his neighbors nearby. Bristling with importance, he crossed the street and spoke to Julia. He said that he had seen a yound boy carrying something wrapped in newspaper away from the little garden. He also told her that the boy lived with his grandmother in the garage of number thirty in the next street. “Yo should go and see what they have to say about it” said Pablo. Julia was a bit apprehensive but decided to take the bull by the horns and speak to them.

Upon approaching the house she noticed the open garage doors and a little old lady sitting in the doorway. On the doorstep were two geraniums, one red,one orange in a small stone trough. Julia was flabbergasted but kept her composure and as she stood there a boy of about ten or eleven stepped out from behind the door. ” My name is Carlos and this is my Grandma, do you like my flowers?” he said “I found them near the footpath across the road”. Julia suddenly realized that Carlos was not quite normal mentally and her heart softened. Julia explained everything to Grandma who told Carlos that the pretty flowers belonged to the nice lady standing in front of their door. Julia was lost for words. Carlos looked so upset, clenching his hands together, saying he was sorry, with tears trickling down his face. Julia stepped forward and put her arm around him ” I want you to have the flowers, they are yours now” she said. Carlos smiled through his tears and squeezed Julia’s hand in gratitude. Grandma kissed Julia on both cheeks promising to keep a more diligent eye on Carlos. Julia said ” Good-bye” and promised she would call and take them to the garden centre with her one day to see the beautiful display of plants and flowers.

That night, upon reflection, Julia realized she had made two Canarian friends and because of this she now felt the urge to improve her faltering Spanish. After all, if you had an open mind possibilities were endless.