Two woman were walking ahead of me up my street as I was coming home from the library.* As they walked past my house, one of them bent down and broke a leaf off my sage plant.**
"Hey!" I called to her back, "Hey! That's my plant you just damaged! That's my garden!"
"It's only half a leaf," she said.
"It doesn't matter," I explained, "This is a very busy corner. If everyone took a leaf as they walked by, I'd have no plant left! How would you like it if I went into your garden and picked your plants without asking you?"
"I don't have a garden, but if I did, I'd give you the plants," she said, apparently thinking I was being unreasonable.
"Stuff," I said, "Listen, lady, I went to a Catholic school. If you think I can't recognize an attempt to shame me, you've never known anyone who had a nun for a principal. Just don't go picking people's plants."
"Do you want the leaf back?"
"No, enjoy what you stole, please. Just don't go damaging people's gardens."
She shrugged and walked on.
You know, on Friday, the Cremini Kid and his dad were over. The Cremini Kid was looking at my nasturtiums and asked me if he could try a petal (he likes nasturtiums on salad). I said "Of course!" Because the seven-year-old Cremini Kid knew to ask. He recognized that as the person who planted and tended that garden, I might have other plans for my flowers. Because the seven-year-old Cremini Kid has some basic socialization and because his dad is doing a good job at teaching him about getting along in a community.
My garden is not a big garden. It fronts directly on to the sidewalk on a very busy corner—there's no lawn or fence separating it from the casual passer-by. So my poor garden sees a lot of abuse. People throw their rubbish into my plants. People steal plants. People barf on my lilies.*** I think all of these actions are signs of moral turpitude and the general unsuitability of the perpetrators to community life. I mean how difficult are these basic principles:
don't take stuff that isn't yours without asking;
clean up your messes and don't leave your rubbish or bodily emissions on other people's property; and
stay the heck off my lawn?****
* Whither I had betaken myself to escape the siren song of the arboreal armageddon (read chainsaw shrieks and woodchipper gronching noises) taking place directly across from my house.
** The very sage plant that grew from the tiny sprig of sage left when someone ripped the entire sage plant out of my garden this spring. Said sage plant is now a large and healthy specimen, with many tasty leaves.
*** Yes, this really happened. I leaned over to smell my lovely, just-bloomed rose, and noticed that my lilies had quite a different odour. Sigh.
**** Or tiny front garden. Unless I invite you to frolic there.