Sigmund Freud’s gardener, Felix Speigelmann, carried on a voluminous correspondence with his sister, Ada Weitzberg. The great granddaughter of Mrs. Weitzberg, Sheila Kemp, recently discovered two of Speigelmann’s letters to his sister. Ms. Kemp has seen fit to bring these letters to the public’s attention in the hope that their import will translate into monetary gain or a trip to Fort Lauderdale to visit her nephew.
Vienna, September 3, 1900
I was trimming Dr. Freud’s topiary shrub when I saw him wander out of the house and stand in the middle of the lawn with his gaze fixed on the grass. I thought we were about to experience another of his hysterical outbursts about aphids, such as the one I wrote to you about last week. I inquired if I might be of assistance to him.
“Ah Felix, my good man,” he said. “I’ve been thinking. The position of a lawn in a dream corresponds approximately to that of reality; i.e., we dream of a static condition of the lawn which corresponds with the actual condition.”
I thought he was concerned about soil alkalinity or the brown spots for which his terrier is responsible. I thought to offer an explanation in a delicate fashion (you know how he feels about that cursed dog), but he kept talking.
“The condition of one’s own lawn may in the dream be attributed to another person. The lawn in any particular position may appear in the dream as an animal or monster, in which case a certain analogy between the two is established. What do you think, Herr Speigelmann?”
“Iron sulfate, sir,” I suggested.
“Quite right,” he said, then wandered off, seemingly oblivious to my presence, so I returned to the task of pruning his evergreen shrubs.
Always your loving brother,
Vienna,, December 29, 1915
Thank you for the Christmas gift. The scarf is lovely. I was awakened last night by Dr. Freud sitting on the edge of my bed.
“I am worried about the lawn,” he said. “Do you ever dream about the lawn?”
I didn’t know what to tell him, Ada. There are six inches of snow on the lawn. For a moment, I thought I was dreaming.
“You are not dreaming,” Dr. Freud said, “Felix, lawn dreams are not meaningless; they are complete comprehensible mental acts. In lawn dreams there is no distortion and therefore they need no interpretation. In the dream we have the direct, undisguised fulfillment of your lawn wish. Everyone with a lawn has a lawn wish. What is your lawn wish, Felix?”
Ada, I don’t think I can work for the doctor much longer. Lawns, schmawns. I water the grass, I fertilize the grass. I water the grass. I told the doctor that’s all I do. Then I mentioned I also like to propagate plants, and the next thing you know I’m in his office on his couch talking about Momma. It was 3 a.m., Ada. 3 a.m. Sometimes a lawn is just a lawn.
I hear the Prussian army is taking volunteers.