Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mothers Day

When we were first married we lived in a poor inner suburb which was at the time the centre of Greek immigrant community in Brisbane. Living among a bunch of "wogs" was fantastic, and we had many cultural and culinary experiences which were simply not available elsewhere in 1970 Queensland.

Many of the older generation spoke little or no English. Most, if not all, clung to the particular traditions of the community from which they had come.

Gardens as we knew them, "just for looking at", were non existent, if they had anything growing at all, it was for eating, grapes and eggplant and strange vegetables that didn't have a name, to supplement their basic diets.

If there was some soil that didn't have anything for eating growing in it, it was concreted over. Every front yard was similar except for the one rather more run down place than most on Boundary Street quite near the shops. It stood out particularly because it's whole front yard (all one and a half metres of it) was planted with Chrysanthemums, although we didn't know what they were until they started to flower. They were just a mid green, sparsely leafed shrub that hovered improbably above the ground in contrast to the concrete and bean crops in all the other yards.

By late April the house was like a white postcard, a beacon that shone above all others.

Actually that is a dreadful exaggeration. The elderly owners of the house weren't much chop at flower production, and the few withered stems that produced flowers were in contrast to the hard bare earth that they was their background. It all seemed such a shame that they'd gone to so much effort to produce not so much as a meal. Then, the sign appeared on the gate, carefully painted with a shaky hand in Silverfrost on a bit of old fibro:

"Mothering Day Flowers On Saleing Now"

We smiled and understood.

We never bought any but we loved that sign and everything it stood for.

We still smile nearly thirty-five years later, at the resourcefulness, the quaintness of the language, and in admiration of the fact that an elderly Greek lady could write six more words in our language than we can in hers, even to this day.'

It's Mother's Day here on Sunday, so wish your Mum a happy one from me!


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