In The Garden of Mr. Carino

a writing by Nancy Ellen Crossland

It was just a small brick home in the middle of the block. Neat, well kept. Nothing spectacular. But the lawn! Always bright green, lush and weed-free. A marvel to the rest of the neighbors who struggled with a variety of pests; weeds, brown spots and whatever blight would ravage their lawns. Not the Carinos. A green to stand with pride amongst the finest golf courses of the world. No one knew the secrets to this wonder.

Mr. Carino would be seen almost daily performing we thought, some kind of magic. As beautiful as his front lawn was, the real magic was performed in his backyard. His garden.

In his familiar battered straw hat and overalls, he spent his days tending his very special garden. Flowers, plants and shrubbery of numerous varieties inhabited his yard along with a selection of fruit trees. He had built a pathway that meandered through the garden winding around a mini-bridge surrounded by two benches. Several birdhouses he built graced the garden as well.

When he invited some of the neighborhood kids to see his garden, we thought we had seen the 8th Wonder of the World!
All these visits to his garden were so much more than enjoying the beauty of it all.

He taught us how to respect nature in all its frailty and splendor. We received an education on propagation, clippings, root systems and pruning. How vital the bees and birds were to the flowers. Mr. Carino filled our minds, while Mrs. Carino filled our stomachs with freshly squeezed lemonade and baked almond cookies.

Along with our knowledge of growing things, Mr. Carino entertained us with his tales of his boyhood in Italy. He was a master storyteller. He always blended a valuable lesson filled with wisdom and sprinkled with his unique humor.

Mr. Carino, a simple man who rejoiced in the everyday beauty of nature and his garden. He shared a priceless, timeless gift with us. Himself.

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