Notes from the Garden

By Julie Hawley

I expect my brother to die at any moment. It's hard to think about writing a gardening column right now when my thoughts are of him and his family, but I will try.

Robin is younger than me, married to the lovely Susan, and father to two boys, ages 14 and 12. For the past four years, cancer has wreaked havoc on his body. He is 57 years old. It's never a good time to lose a spouse or parent, and at such young ages, it seems especially heartbreaking for his family.

My brother has led a fascinating life, full of friends, love, travel, and adventure. He has lived in Illinois, Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Florida, and finally California. His travels have included the entire United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Europe and India. He has many tales to share from his travels and is a gifted storyteller.

For twenty-five years Robin lived in Gainesville, Florida. It was there he established himself and became the co-owner of an organic tangerine farm. That was Pete’s and my first introduction to the organic produce movement and farmers markets. We visited him there several times over the years.

The tangerine farm was a peaceful place in the quiet of the citrus region of Florida. Robin built a rustic house there and that's where their children were born. He became knowledgeable of the flora and fauna of Florida and took us on bike rides, beach hikes, and canoe rides to show us all the natural sights.

Now at the end of his life, Robin finds himself surrounded by friends and family whom he has nurtured during his lifetime. He will always be part of my life; our shared love of the natural world will sustain me. Robin will forever be in my thoughts, especially in the springtime when the tangerines are in bloom.

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