Eva, my friend….


OOOOH! I was SO excited to see my Crown of Thorns had blossomed. Just think what might happen if I remembered to use fertilizer…. I’ve taken it outside to get more sun and it is happy to be there, I DO believe my plants are aware!(by the way The Secret Life of Plants is a great book).  I discovered these plants from my good friend Eva. I first met Eva when I was in my early 20’s and she in her early 70’s. I had moved to the deserts of Utah, to a very small town. Eva rented a building to my sister and her husband, who operated a small grocery store. I worked there. Eva came in everyday to get a beer. Just one beer. She had smiling blue eyes, was a petite 5′ and had an easy laugh.  She also told great stories. Eva was my saving grace in that small town, she was my best friend. I was terribly lonely, before she and I became friends. I would go for long walks out in the desert. At first I didn’t think the desert had any beauty and then it began to grow on me, probably in part, due to Eva’s love for it. She had grown up there, had ridden horseback through the sage and brush with her sister to collect old bottles at the old army post. She’s lived her whole life in that place, and was as comfortable with herself and as unassuming as that desert. She wore a beautiful turqouise bracelet that she’d traded for with a Navajo jeweler whom she admired and respected. She’s been a widow for 30 years when I met her. She never seemed lonely or at a loss for something to do. She loved her grandchildren more than life, and was so proud of them. She was an avid reader and invited me to join a book discussion group. What a blast. A wonderful group of honest, intelligent women, discussing very provocative issues with candor and respect. We read, Bless me, Ultima,  as one of the selections. That is where I learned of the term Curandera.  Sounds so much better than Crone. Couldn’t there be a word that imbues such respect and wisdom to women, that has a sweeter sound than CRONE? Surely there must be such a word in Spanish or French or maybe Arabic??  Eva was a kind of Curandera,  her friendship kept me sane, she taught me how  to make a quilt, cheered on all my crafty endeavors and one day she even serenaded me with her accordion…what a memory, I can still see her smiling brightly while she played for me..and I was transported to Vienna…. Eva was a naturalist, she didn’t bother with growing a lawn, her yard was much like the desert around us, with a few wagon wheels about to spruce it up and of course her collection of old glass bottles. Beer bottles that were 100 years old, ink bottles that were pretty shades of sunkissed purple and blue. When I moved back to California at 23 she gave me a HUGE bouquet of Zinnia’s, her favorite flower. They were presented in a yellow glass pitcher for me to keep. I still have it, it sits atop my kitchen counter holding utensils. She also gave me some of her long ago collected glass bottles, which i love, because they remind me of her and her idealic horseback riding childhood. The last time I spoke with Eva I had sent her a picture of my son at 2 and 1/2 and cuttings from a zig zag cactus I had. She and I also shared a love of cacti. She was so appreciative and always cheerful. She passed away not long after that at almost 90. Dear Eva, I hope you’re still riding horseback and giving me a nudge now and again, to look for the zinnias and listen for the music.