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Posted by on Jan 4, 2013 in Blog, Inspiration & Thoughts, Thoughts | 20 comments

Demesio and His Garden. An Inspiring Story.

Demesio and His Garden. An Inspiring Story.


“ART —  when really understood —  is the province of every human being.”

“Art is simply a question of doing things, anything, well.”

-Robert Henri

© Elsa Mora. Ink on paper.

I want to tell you about a neighbor that I had in Cuba, way back when I was about 12 years old. He never got married or had children, he was modest and quiet. I never saw him say a word, but I saw him walk every morning to work wearing his uniform, which consisted of a long-sleeve green shirt, beige pants, and boots.  Demesio worked as a gardener for a sports-related building not too far from our neighborhood. In the morning, on my route to school, I used to walk by Demesio’s garden wondering how on Earth a single man could take care of such a large garden and keep it as vibrant and beautiful as he did.  Demesio was  totally immersed in his work . That’s what he did, day after day, his whole life.


© Elsa Mora. Ink on paper.


Thinking back, Demesio’s garden is one of the best memories that I have from my past in Cuba.  It was abundant, rich, full of harmony and beauty, with small palm trees lined up like miniature soldiers, flowers in a multitude of colors, different species of succulents…a feast to the eyes.  He couldn’t have imagined the impact  his work had on his young neighbor.

I once overheard a conversation between my Mom and Demesio’s sister where she said that Demesio’s niece had won a trip to Europe (to the La Unión Soviética).

The niece wanted Demesio to go with her because he always worked so hard and deserved a vacation, but Demesio refused. I’m sure that  what Demesio didn’t want was to be away from his garden. That garden was his life, his identity, what he did everyday, what he loved most. I knew this even though I never heard it directly from Demesio. This gentle, quiet man was in my opinion a true artist. My Mom told me that he died a few years ago at an old age. He will always be  alive in my memory.

Demesio and his garden were at the very beginning of my journey as an artist.  He taught me the power of doing what you love, not for the sake of impressing anybody,  but for  self-expression and personal realization. I wanted to share this story with you as an invitation to reflect on what true art is . Behind great art there is just a person who loves doing what he/she does. It is that simple.

I hope that you have a restful weekend. See you on Monday!



  1. Oh this is so wonderful and heartwarming! Caring for plants is a true art and is a gift that gives back a thousandfold! It is lovely to have such vivid memories from childhood, including your innocent heartfelt perceptions. Thank you for sharing! Have a wonderful weekend xoxo

  2. Oh how lovely. It reminds me of the saying “the real voyage of discovery does not exist in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. I often somehow feel that to be creative and “interesting” I must be always be living a huge adventurous life, when in my heart I really want a small but fascinated one..being immersed like this in a passion really inspires me..each day is an adventure when you feel safe, creative, abundant and happy..

    • Cath, this is so true: “the real voyage of discovery does not exist in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. I think that you should do exactly what your heart wants :)
      Elsa Mora recently posted..Demesio and His Garden. An Inspiring Story.My Profile

  3. Thank you Elsita! I feel always better reading your words! I love what you say and the way you say it! I would like to print your words on my brain! 😀
    Gaia Marfurt recently posted..Bomboniere per il 2013…My Profile

  4. I sometimes forget how blessed I have been, I escaped from my working-class life and I have had the opportunity to travel and experience art. It would be amazing to be completely comfortable in one’s own life like Demesio.

    • Janet, that’s the thing about Demesio that left such a deep mark in me. He was so comfortable being who he was. My Mom is a similar case. She lives in a tiny apartment, she is surrounded only by the essencial objects but she often says that she feels like a millionaire. What she loves most is giving to other people. When she comes to visit me she brings lemons, chocolate… she also cooks soup once in a while and shares it with old people from her building. People like my Mom and Demesio are inspiring.
      Elsa Mora recently posted..Demesio and His Garden. An Inspiring Story.My Profile

  5. What a lovely story to wake up to Elsa, thank you. Gardening is such a beautiful allegory for living and creating. I sometimes forget the daily tending of my ‘garden’ and then wonder why things aren’t thriving. I need to find my inner Demesio. He’s so alive in your words and drawings. Maybe I’ll draw my own little gardening man to remind me.

    • I agree with you Nicola. On the 4th grade I had a teacher who taught us how to take care of a little plant for a certain period of time. She made each of us plant a bean seed in a glass jar. Every morning when to came into the classroom we had to water the seed. We were so excited when the seeds started sprouting. Observing the little green leaves grow was pure magic. I still remember my excitement. I think that we should all take care of at least one plant. It’s a symbolic way to remind ourselves that we should take care of our personal growth and creativity as well.
      Elsa Mora recently posted..Demesio and His Garden. An Inspiring Story.My Profile

  6. What a beautiful memory of your neighbor!how wonderful that he inspired you and that he lives on in your memory ! Happy to have found your blog! Happy New Year!

  7. Lovely story! I see artist’s in chef’s, fashion designer’s, “gardener’s”, and so many people who truly have a passion, and a driving force for what they do, and wonderful, devoted gentlemen like Demesio is just that example! Thankyou for sharing. Oh and thankyou also for sharing your fabulous work’s as well! :) Dawn

  8. What an incredibly beautiful story…I wish I could have known Demesio, or had him as my neighbor. It would’ve been an honor. Your drawings are incredible…they make my heart sing. :)
    Sherri B. recently posted..Show Up. Dream Big. Focus Small.My Profile

  9. “Behind great art there is just a person who loves doing what he/she does. It is that simple.”

    I agree with you about what true art is. Even when I’m baking a pie, I feel like I am doing so in an artful way because I just love doing what is in front of me. The essence of an artist can touch anything when she is loving what she does ~ a plant, a meal, paper and ink.

    Thank you for this website and Happy New Year to you, dear Elsita.

  10. so sweet!! now Demesio memory run all over the world through you story!

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