I was sitting in the doctor's waiting room wondering if they would ever discover a cure for arthritis and reading an old Burke's Backyard magazine when suddenly a sentence jumped off the page and smacked me in the face and I had one of those light bulb moments (which, by the way, will never be the same with those twisty eco bulbs).
"Jasmine is a thug," Don Burke had written.
"Eureka!" I almost shouted before remembering I was in a doctor's surgery. Not that it mattered: the television was blaring - out of reach above and beyond the reception desk - and an obvious dementia case was conducting a loud soliloquy in a far corner, so a man with a bandaged knee shouting "Eureka" was hardly going to make a huge difference to the ambience, if grey plastic racked chairs and carpet that would have been the colour of coral in 1988 could be called ambience. There's good ambience and bad ambience.
Because I knew all along. I just wouldn't admit it. Jasmine is one of those plants that everyone loves. "Ah, jasmine! Such a beautiful fragrance! And the flowers!" You can even drink them. Jasmine tea is delicious. I drink gallons of the stuff every time I eat in Chinatown.
Perhaps I was still fooled by that quintessential hippy song from the early seventies. Summer breeze makes me feel fine; blowing through the jasmine in my mind. That track sold a lot or records and a lot of jasmine plants. Probably a lot of other green plants as well. Dried.
But the jasmine had another life that I didn't know about. I soon learned. I had four pots of it. We moved house. I took them out of the pots and put them in the ground, near the fence. And against the shed. Just for a bit of green in winter and a bit of fragrance in summer on the grey palings and the cement sheeting walls.
That was late 2005. Not four years ago. The jasmine travelled. It set up base camps along the way. It does that. Every now and then the ground-travelling tendrils take root. Jasmine travels light and needs no water. It is the camel of the plant world. It would probably cross the Nullarbor (aboriginal word meaning 'Latin for no trees') if you didn't cut it back. And I didn't cut it back. Well, I cut back some of the visible bits but jasmine is smart and sends out shoots in the places you don't look.
Tendrils travelled pale pink and white, saving chlorophyll, through the shed floor and walls, across the dusty rafters, out the other side where they turned green again, along the back fence, into the property at the rear, into its shed and, for all I know, off into the rest of the suburb, through sewerage pipes, underground gas lines, broadband optic fibre cable networks and storm water drains. If you live in the Brunswick/Moreland/Coburg corridor, that leafy tendril waving over your back fence is my jasmine. Shoot it.
I'm looking forward to next summer: See the smile a-waitin' in the kitchen, food cookin' and the plates for two. See the arms that reach out to hold me, in the evening when the day is through.
Yeah, and the breeze won't be blowing through any jasmine. I'm off to Bunnings. Secateurs are on special this week. It might be too late.