Saturday, February 01, 2014

Farm Bulletin: Groundhog Day and Cecil's Birthday

Meeting friends' parents is always delightful, not to mention revealing. And I would dearly love to have met Cecil Boutard, Horticultural Director of the Berkshire Botanical Garden, father of contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm.

"Once upon a time in Spain there was a little bull and his name was Ferdinand. All the other bulls he lived with would run and butt their heads together, but not Ferdinand. He liked to sit just quietly and smell the flowers."

At work.

Munro Leaf's story of Ferdinand was first read to me by Mrs. Angelini, the first grade teacher at the Plain School in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The story of a gentle pacifist who loved to sit among the flowers was neither odd nor unfamiliar; my father was a Ferdinand by every measure, and to his very soul.

Born to a family of engineers on Groundhog Day, Cecil Roy Boutard was the odd duck among them, the one who loved beauty without the need to disassemble or understand it. Saturday mornings as I was growing up, he would make bread in the company of Milton Cross and the Metropolitan Opera, serene in the Italian or German maelstrom unfolding on the radio. Most of all, he loved flowers. His three children were fortunate to live a life surrounded by such beauty. He was a fine teacher, as well.

On the first of July, 2010, he carefully planted his summer tubs, hanging baskets and window boxes and that evening sat down next to mother, just quietly, his job done. A graceful way to exit after 94 years.

"And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling flowers just quietly. He is very happy. The end."

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