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Mystery of the magically appearing garden art

Two pretty little metalwork trellises magically popped up in my tomato patch this week ... but I had nothing to do with their sudden appearance.

I didn't beg, borrow or barter for them. Honest. I would have, had I known about their existence before their garden debut, for I instantly adored the twin, tree-shaped, cream-colored and cunningly wrought surprises. They were bedecked with birds singing in leafy branches or sitting in twiggy nests. Adorable.

Curious there was no card, no note, no hint of who dropped off the useful little delights. They weren't there when I left for work that morning. I discovered them in the evening, after patting the cat, chatting up the parrots and changing into gardening duds.

I headed out to throw some water around the yard before the sun set on a long day. Turned on the spigot with one hand. Grabbed the hose with the other. And did a double take. Just north of the chives, nestled amongst three little tomato plants, stood the trellises.

I gasped. I grinned. I gave it some thought. Who? What? Aha! My garden faerie was obviously Neighbor Jan. Yes, of course. Earlier this summer Jan surprised me with a full-yard grooming from a professional gardener. Apparently she was continuing the theme. How sweet. I couldn't wait to thank her.

"You're welcome," Jan said. "But I don't know what you're talking about."

Jan's denial rattled my noodle. I was sure it had been her. Hmm. Perhaps the gifts were from our mutual friend and neighbor, Saint Cindy, the most helpful, giving person I know. Usually her gifts are from the sweat of her brow. But she's been known to drop off goodies from time to time.

I called our friend and left an effusive message of thanks on her machine. "Oh, Cindy, you shouldn't have. Really. They're too adorable. Thank you soooooo much."

Cindy called back within minutes to ask if I was feeling alright. Turns out she had no idea what I was talking about, either.

I checked with my beau, The Englishman, my Sis and other assorted beloveds. Did you, perchance, drop off ...?

Nope. Nope. Nope. Etc.

I was determined to identify of the gift giver. I announced my curious sitch on Facebook. Somebody? Anybody? Folks noted this mystery was a delightful dilemma. But nobody fessed up.

I even queried Rogue River's general populace via e-mail to City Hall. Perhaps someone had tendered the trellises because of my heartfelt shoutout to the town in last week's column.

Get over yourself, Sunshine. We're not the Chamber of Commerce.

Well hell's bells, as my beloved mom used to say. I was pretty much out of ideas. I could hear Mom's voice in my head, "Think it through, Sandra Lynne. What kind of investigative reporter are you? Clearly these came from somebody who knew you and your taste." (True, Mom. The trellises are so me.)

The kindly culprit also had to be someone who knew I had a veggie nook tucked into my yard. Perhaps someone with a quirky sense of humor who'd find it amusing to torture me with curiosity.

That's when it occurred to me that my garden faerie might actually be a big ole garden elf.

Specifically, he might be a fellow who once snuck a live trout into my fish tank — when my fish tank was my bathtub — then roared with laughter when I called sputtering about late-night discoveries. (Note to self: Check guest's pockets when they've been fishing off your lawn before they enter your bathroom. Especially if they're whistling nonchalantly and looking particularly angelic.)

I have almost a dozen years on young Coffee Boy. But we've agreed our mutual default age is about 14. Consequently, we've shared many weird adventures over the years. The more I thought about it, the more the stealthy trellis installation fit his modus operandi. But the motive remained unclear. And I knew I would never hear the end of this query if my guess was wrong. So I dialed with considerable trepidation.

"Hey, Coffee Boy, did you happen to swing by my place and leave a little something in my garden this week?"

Color me 12 shades of relieved when the man barely got out his initial "Why would I do that?" denial before cracking. I could hear him grinning over the phone. Turns out, my mischievous pal spent the previous weekend helping his mom weed out her collectibles and decided to share his haul. Coffee Boy chortled with glee over his "reverse burglary."

"I thought it would be fun to come by and leave something instead of take something," he said. "The trellises looked like something you would probably like. And I knew you had neglected to give your 'maters anything to climb on."

Coffee Boy informs me he nabbed an entire box of giftable goodies. He plans on planting them about my property in weekly installments as he passes by on his way to Grant Pass to make coffee deliveries. He's particularly delighted that I'll be at work while he's playing hide-and-seek.

"It will be fun to see if you can figure out what they are and where they are," Coffee Boy said.

Game on, with gratitude. I hope they're all garden-related. I haven't exactly given Mr. Greenjeans a run for his money in gardens past. But this year's effort — three generic tomato plants and some straggly chives — is the most tragic to date. My veggies can use all the help Coffee Boy can give. I just hope the fish can take it.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.