Sunday, September 17, 2006

Eddie

Eddie was my next-door neighbor in the Catskills, a man who really shouldn't be the subject of discussion on My Bad Girl Blog, even though he likes women and thinks the subject sounds interesting. But I really want to write about Eddie because I have a crush on him.

Eddie lived in the Bird House, a little cottage next to mine at the Sunny Oaks camp. He's been spending his summers there for years now and has planted flowering bushes that attract hummingbirds.

Eddie is 102. He knows all about hummingbirds and plant life because he's a horticulturalist with with a master's degree in biology. He took me on a nature walk around Lake Cynthia, a little lake at Sunny Oaks, and he pointed out colt's-foot, which the Indians used to treat bee stings, and vibernum, which the Indians used to dye their feathers a purplish blue, and a fuzzy leaf called something like "shoe flannel" because the Indians put it in their mocassins like a Dr. Scholl's footpad. I can't remember all the names Eddie told me, there were so many.

Eddie saw all kinds of things on our walk that I'd never noticed before. But he couldn't remember the name of one plant, a flower, and it bothered him. He remembers a lot, like leaving Austria in 1912 when he was 8 years old and the boat ride over, where he saw a banana for the first time in his life, and arriving at Ellis Island.

Eddie dropped out of school in the eighth grade because the American kids in Coney Island teased him about his accent. He was a butcher's son so he became a butcher. But when he was 24 years old, Eddie got a land grant from the US government to homestead in Oregon, which is where he studied biology. Eventually he became a park ranger for the Department of the Interior, and while he was working at Mount Hood he met a pretty girl who was camping there with a girlfriend. Eddie and the girl got married three months later and they stayed together for about 50 years, until she died 12 years ago.

Eddie recently had a 40-something girlfriend, but the story is that he finally broke up with her, saying, "What are you doing with a 100-year-old man?" Now another 40-something lady has been knocking at his door lately, and the weekend I met him she cooked Eddie some shrimp scampi for dinner. "I think she's lonely," Eddie told me.

On the day I left Sunny Oaks, I went to the Bird House to hug and kiss Eddie goodbye, and he told me he remembered the name of that flower. It was a tansy. T-A-N-S-Y, which has yellow buttonlike flower heads and aromatic leaves.

1 comment:

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