Saturday, January 24, 2015

Street Photography in the Gardens: The Tree Nurturing Man

The Nurturer (Dubbo Australia December 2014)

One thing among many that I have often noticed about people who work with plants is their passion: they not only ‘like’ their jobs, but are deeply committed in the sense that they truly care for the well being of the plants in their care; for these special people it is a joy to be with and to nurture living things and see them thrive. They also are more than happy to share their passion with others.  

Recently, during our stay in Dubbo, we went for a walk in the local Botanic Gardens. A beautiful oasis in the midst of this really rather remote outback city, which in itself is something of an oasis in the midst of the greater aridness of the country for a few thousand square kilometers around.

There we came upon one of the grounds persons who care for these lovely gardens. This man was standing, slightly precariously it seemed to me, on the rather steep slope, orange watering can in hand, spraying water onto a tree, a baby tree, completely obscured by sack cloth, or as it’s known here, hessian. He made such a lovely sight that I had to photograph him. 

Twice. In the first image he is standing, head down, with his full attention on his task. Then, as I went to make the second image, he looked up at me and smiled. This is the image I’ve chosen to accompany this post. I smiled back and asked him what he was doing. Here i need to confess that at that point I committed a grievous sin that all street photographers will be shocked by: I neglected to ask this man his name. Don’t ask me why; I have no idea. Heat of the moment, distracted by the gardens or the conversation. Whatever the reason, I am sure he would forgive me.

 ‘This one wasn't doing too well,’ he told us. ‘The sun had dried it up.’ He went on to tell us that at first they had no idea what kind of tree they were going to plant there.

‘We had the label in the ground, but no tree,’ he said. ‘Then when it came in we had to do some research to make sure we put the right one in the ground.’ He went on to tell us that they’d had to wrap the little thing up after a while, what with the sun burning the leaves and stunting its growth.

‘That’s why we've planted the wattles here,’ he pointed to a leafy young tree about as tall as he was just to his right that did look like it could give a bit of shade on hot sunny days (which is most days in this neck of the woods as they say). ‘They’re fast growing and easy to look after and they do give a lot of shade.’

Still I neglected to ask his name or give him mine. Later I saw him again and asked him the name of the tree he’d been so lovingly nurturing when we’d talked:

‘It’s a Kurrajong. A Dwarf Kurrajong actually,’ he told me. ‘It’s the same as the other trees in that spot.’ 

Again, for whatever reason I can’t fathom, I forgot to ask his name. But, no matter, it was a pleasant encounter and I think a lovely photograph of a man happy at his work, a man who cares about what he’s doing. Why, he even apologized when he seemed to hesitate for a minute before remembering who I was and our previous conversation.

So, thank you to the Dubbo Botanic Garden tree nurturing man.