I hope you all live in climates where you are now planting your lettuces. I live in a climate where I am still shoveling out from the two feet of snow we got Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s almost beyond human endurance.
Thank God for the movies–particularly movies with lush gardens. Last week, my husband brought home Judy Irving’s 2005 documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, and it was as good as a week in the tropics. It’s the story of a slightly unmoored San Francisco street musician named Mark Bittner who feeds and cares for the city’s flock of wild parrots, who in turn lead him to a much bigger and better life.
The movie is worth seeing just for the portrait of San Francisco, which I’ve always considered the chilliest and least friendly of beautiful cities. Irving’s San Francisco, on the other hand, is a utopia of goodness and tolerance where the sun seems always to be shining and it’s always the Summer of Love. Bittner himself could not be sweeter or more intelligent. Even the supporting players are unimaginably nice, including the rich couple who allow Bittner to live rent-free for three years in a cottage on their spectacular property on Telegraph Hill just because he is an interesting person.
Of course, no fairy tale kingdom is complete without a magic garden, and the gardens of Telegraph Hill more than qualify. Fuchsias the size of Volkswagens dangling their intricate little flowers casually over the path! Sherbet-colored brugmansias planted right in the ground! Pink pelargoniums treated as groundcover! Giant Monterey cypress making sure there’s a note of seriousness in all this wonder! And cherry-headed green parrots swooping in and out of all this greenery, echoing the vibrant colors of the plants. Where do I want to live? That’s easy. In Judy Irving’s world.