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Enjoying Maryville in Tennessee, USA
Maryville and Knoxville are twin towns like Hyderabad and Secunderabad in India. Infact when one lands, you land in Knoxville in the Tyson McGhee miniscule airport. Well miniscule compared to Bangalore, Heathrow and Chicago that I went through to reach Knoxville. One has to take shuttle buses in the UK and sky trains in Chicago to change terminals to the International ones. While in Knoxville there is one carousel where your luggage tumbles out and there at max 30 people stand to claim. Not like the terrible dodging & squeezing to pull your suitcase off on the huge carousels elsewhere, almost pulling your arm off in the process from the socket.
It feels like home cause I have visited at least 5 times and its very comforting to walk into the same building where people can come right upto security, to wave ‘bye to their loved ones and collect them as well! Can be so surprising as normally family has to stand outside the entrance gates and peer in to check if their rellies are coming off. Another lovely positive of Tyson is one does not have to take off one’s shoes and pull out the laptop from the back back and ‘older’ people like me get a yellow card that helps me jump the que.
The kids come to collect me and most often they are done with work as my flight arrives at 10 pm which is easy for them. I watch for the car and as soon as I see them I wheel the suitcases out and hop in. No need of the big parking exercise and wait like it’s done in the UK. Knoxville is full of trees and the airport has a particular variety of cypress which makes it familiar for me even while I am visiting.
In no time I am home and in the familiar guest room with an excited Alaina wanting to show me all her new toys and her brand new book shelf. She is only three but loves her books and reading. Funnily enough they are taught to read by phonetics and not like we were saying c-a- t cat and b-a-t- bat etc. Barely three and reading, my mind boggles at the thought.
Maryville in May is balmy and just like Bangalore that I left behind. Sadly the peach tree are bereft of their peaches, all gobbled by the birds but I find the black berry bush loaded with fruit. Quickly I go to the garage the next day and pull out the roll of plastic mesh and make a sort of cage around the fruit. Hopefully that keeps the marauding birds out and Alaina gets to enjoy the fruit which are large, pink and look juicy as I left.
The two young peach trees have shot up and look lovely with their slim green new leaves dancing in the sunlight. I go to check them as the kids say the birds ate up the twelve peaches that came up this year. They will obviously have to buy some netting to save them next year! The trees are growing fast and while I am there I load the roots with a rich wet waste compost which has formed since I buried a lot of it last visit under a pile of grass clippings. The sweet smelling compost is carried in buckets and I dig around the trees roots and load it up to aid its growth.
When we skin the chicken legs and take the fat off the thighs, I dig a deep hole near the fruit trees and sink the skins & fat in to decompose and feed the trees. Even the prawn skins are buried rather than stink up the trash. Last time I buried a large long pound of garlic bread the kids had forgotten in the fridge and it went green and off. It had turned into wonderful compost this time round, which was used to layer the veggie patch where the lady’s finger ( okra) and brinjal ( egg-plant) have been planted. The tomatoes have been put into pots as they have lovely stand on which they creep. The little pot of Cilantro too is green and juicy and adds flavour to all my dishes that I cook.
I love taking a big glass of bird seed and pouring it outside on the stone path near the kitchen window and I watch the birds as they come to eat as I wash dishes or cook. A flashy red cardinal catches my attention every single day. Tufted Titmouse’s, Carolina Chickadees, Mourning Doves, Carolina Wrens, Finches and ofcourse the male and female Cardinal and the large American Robin are easily identifiable by me. They come and feed themselves everyday to my delight. I try to shoo off the big grey squirrel who also comes and gobbles up the feed not allowing the birds to get any of the seeds. The bird feed is made up of a variety of seeds which attract different birds some of which plonk themselves on the stone and dehusk the seeds before eating them. Earlier Andrew had a feeder on his lawn which was a bad idea as the seeds fell and sprouted and messed up his lawn.
I drag out the gardening hoses which are fixed to both sides of the house. One for the back garden and one for the front. I find it hard to pull the pipes even though they are well wrapped on a stand and come with a wonderful nozzle to adjust the spray. I use the nozzle to spray the lawn and the veggies, but I carry buckets to the fruit trees on the slope as I feel they need heavier watering.
This time a friend has given Andrew three fig trees. I adore fig trees though my friend Florence in Knoxville says they turn enormous and take over a lot of space. Andrew does not mind as he has a very large back garden and these are up on the slope. They too got a dose of chicken skin and fat and hopefully they turn much larger once I return in six months! I cant get over how trees get just that six months to establish themselves before the snow and freezing conditions take over. Here in India its balmy all the time.
This time I learned in the UK that one can use thermal blanket especially on Azaleas and Camelias which cant withstand the freeze. The Azaleas we planted last year in Andrew’s side garden look lush and lovely and he said flowered well before I arrived. Knoxville and Maryville have milder winters than the UK and yet Davids garden sprouts the most wonderful flowers in Spring and summer.
I carried a ginger of the Solomon’s seal to plant in Andrew’s garden and a yellow Iris. But the Irises in Knoxville and Maryville are gorgeous and are the state flower. So the varieties growing there are mind bloggling and simply stunning.
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