So, with my freshly tanned shoulders wrapped up and standing beneath an umbrella held by Sylvester in one of his ham sized paws, you find me standing beside something that’s appeared in my back garden.
“But what is it,” I said to Ali, my gardener.
“Your Christmas present, and it’s beautiful,” he replied. “It’s a sundial. My people have been using sundials to tell the time for 3000 years.”
“Your people?” I said.
“Gardeners?” asked Sylvester, looking confused.
“Those of us who come from the middle east,” replied Ali. “Persians, Syrians. Us lot.”
I sometimes feel that Ali’s skills are wasted. He used to be a botany professor at Damascus University. And now he tends my garden. He seems happy though. Talking to Sylvester is a little like petting a monkey, for Ali.
“Thank you, Ali,” I said. “That’s a very kind thought.”
I looked skyward and I could see Ali was reading my mind. I’ve just got back from a land of apparently endless sunshine, but the sky over Vancouver between the months of October to April resembles nothing so much as being inside Tupperware.
“I don’t think I’m getting rid of the kitchen clock, at least not before spring,” I said. “But it is beautiful. You’re very kind.”
“Three thousand years, you’ve been using these?” said Sylvester.
“We should probably ask Amanda how it works,” I said. “She probably remembers the product launch party.”
At this Sylvester gave me a sour look.
Ali looked at the cloud covered sky and then examined the numbers around it’s base, and then said “I think it was 2.30, in September…”
I’m sure that when the sun comes out it will be a lovely centre piece to the East garden. Ali is so thoughtful. And I’m not one to look a gift camel in the mouth.
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