Updated: Jul 26, 2022
My friend David has been staying with me for the last three weeks. David is 72. He was my exhusband, Jamie’s art teacher in high school in Ohio. I have known him since I met Jamie, when I was 27, in Vermont. In March 2020 David generously invited myself, and another dear friend of ours, to Italy for to celebrate his 70th birthday. He had rented an elegant apartment. We had plans to wander Rome looking at luminous art, eat sumptuous amounts of pasta, and linger in cafes over espresso and cannolis. On February 14th , Valentine’s day, David went into emergency heart surgery ,a triple bypass. Our trip of course, cancelled, as he would need many weeks to reocover. Within weeks, Italy was ground zero of Covid in Europe.
David is a teacher. He teaches architecture at a prestigious private school on the East coast. When he was 40, and I was 29, he took a sabbatical from teaching, and came and helped Jamie and I build our house, that he and Jamie had designed, in Tesuque, NM. He lived in a tent on the land. Not a nylon camping tent, but a white canvas tent, which had an antique wooden sleigh bed in it, and mahogany side table, and a silver candelabra. Think Peter Beard in Kenya during his glamorous years. He brought his black cat Butch with him, who travelled across the country in his Jeep Wrangler in a cooler full of ice, and was later eaten by coyotes. David was there, when I met Jamie, when we got engaged, when we got married in Santa Fe in November 1994, and also there when my daughter made her early arrival in May 1995. Three years later he would become my son Ryders godfather.
When David comes to visit we garden like mad people together. We buy way too many plants, get exhausted, and then have to figure out getting them all into the ground. David went back to school at 50 to the Rhode Island School of Design and got a degree in landscape architecture. He casts his design knowledge and his love of plants on my Santa Fe garden every summer. I can’t believe how lucky I am. My mother was a great gardener, but passed away before I really was able to plumb her knowledge, and before I discovered how much I love to garden. I love working beside David, learning by osmosis. He is patient with my slowness in learning which plants need sun and which shade. In the first year or so, I was always planting sun loving plants in the shade, and vice a versa. “Clumps, Bettina, Clumps” , he proclaims to me…”It’s all about clumps of flowers. That’s what Gertrude Jekyll the British garden designer believed in.”
David is beloved by many of my friends in NM, and is often whisked off to tea and drinks, and garden consultations. I consider David one of my closest, most dear people in my life, but I am pretty sure there are a whole lot of people on the East Coast who feel exactly the same way about him. He is close to many of his students current and past, and their families. I am sure there is a wide circle that loves him just as fiercely as I do. But when he comes for the summer, I get to pretend I am the only one. He is one of those people who makes the world seem more alive. He reads omnivorously. He is curious. He is a teacher beyond his profession, he gets you connected to your own curiosity, and what you’re passionate about. We have a shared dream of a cabin in the woods somewhere, and will send each other real estate and design ideas for the perfect cabin. He’s about to leave and go back East to get ready for his fall semester. He’s announced he wants to teach until he is 80. Lucky students, I think. He’s such a special part of my life, I thought I would share a little bit about him with you this month. May we all be as lucky to have Davids in our life, and to become Davids to others.
David and Ryder
David and Ryder at the Love Apple in Taos