A new friend asked the other day if I do any gardening. The short answer is no. Between being in a rented house whose owners seem to have a specific horticultural vision, and having a bit of a short attention span when it comes to looking after the well-being of plantlife, I've got solid excuses not to dabble in the green arts. But I'm going to be completely honest with you here. It's the bugs that really keep me from spending time in the garden. I am deeply squeamish even at the mere thought of bugs. It's an embarrassing fact, one that exposes me for the scream-and-scamper GIRL archetype that I am.
I've been thinking for a while now that I just need to get the hell over it. Because if I ever hope to rely on the kids for bug removal, I'd better not let on to them that bugs are creepy crawly little nightmares that, at all costs, should never be touched or looked at. And I really believe that one of the greatest activities for kids at home is watching and tending to a growing plant. Hell, even I love watching a seed germinate. Well into adulthood I've been known to pop a bean or avocado pit or pre-seeded peat disk into water and watch that little sprout unfurl its tender green head. Magic. So, the hell over it, I'm trying to get.
It's late February now, practically March, and from what I hear it's been unseasonably cold. I hadn't noticed. While the rest of the country was suffering through an actual freeze, the latest cold front ushered in daytime temps in the 50s. We only had one day this month in the 70s. That madness seems to be passing now, the sun glimmering friendly and warm. I threw sweaters on the kids one cool morning last week and we headed out, on foot, the few blocks to our favorite nursery, crossing paths with thin-skinned natives bundled in their fleeciest coats and scarves and hats. We exchanged hellos and I snickered inwardly.
Some people can rattle off genera like their own phone numbers, pinpointing a plant's taxonomic hierarchy with hairline precision. They know what to plant, where to plant it at the right time of year, have pre-tested the soil balance and treated it for optimum growing conditions. Me, I glance at the little tags staked into the pots at the nursery. And then I throw all caution to the wind and just plop my new acquisitions into a freshly dug hole, or in our case, one of the pots I have sitting around waiting for this occasion. This day, I let the Boy make most of the plant selections, steering him towards herbs and small flowering things. We picked out enough to fill the basket under The Girlie's stroller, laid out a Girlie sized bag of organic potting soil at her feet, and tossed in a couple of seed packets to round out the mix.
Playing with dirt is nothing The Boy needs to be talked into. He was more than happy to shovel it into the pots and nestle it around the transferred mounds of dirt and root. He carefully laid the plant markers into the pots, lest we forget the difference between rosemary and thyme, and liberally sprinkled all the containers with his watering can. Then he piled the soil into our recycling bin-salvaged egg carton and, ever gently, massaged sunflower and wildflower seeds into the dirt. His daily responsibilities now include watering his plants ("They belong to all of us, Momma") and checking for any new growth. No new developments, yet, but not having to go out and buy a sprig of sage for tonight's dinner gets me plenty excited. I could get used to this kind of gardening.