Monday, April 26, 2010

The indomitable hopeful seed

In spring,  I don't go inside.  I garden.  And then, one day, at the end of May, I stagger into the house, collapse on the floor and have a good look around me.  It's not pretty.  Everyone is naked because no one but me can apparently run the washing machine.  The floor is piled in over-due library books, dirt and the clothes is clings to, homework, crafts, game pieces and chips.  And then... well... then it is time to turn my burnt back on the sun and care for the interior designs.

This year, I began this process a little early.  And it's ongoing.  But now, I have company coming over pretty much every day this week, so I must clean.  That's why I've taken the time from gardening to blog.

My obsession with gardening and planting is like a gold fish... it seems to grow to the size of my pond.  And five acres is a pretty big pond.  And I have also discovered my one compulsion, my vice.  I was once told I'd never amount to anything because I lack vices.  Well, TA-DA!  Here it is, my achilles heal, that soft spot that could bring down this dragon:  compulsive plant buying!  This started to take hold at our house in Pullman.  Once a week, while other women shaved their legs, got their nails professionally painted (instead of just conveniently chewing them off), or otherwise "pampered" themselves, I spent my personal budget on one plant a week. 

With five acres to fill, I'm trying really hard to get down to one plant a week.  I squint my way through the front of every grocery store, through the racks of ooky booky baby plants.  I squeeze through them, trying to ignore their siren songs.  I don't seem to care what the establishment: the quaint nursery or the gas station.  At Home Depot this morning, I experienced uncomfortable heart palpitations as I drove by the gardening section.  I can barely take care of the one's I've got, and the pain denying myself new pleasures was immense, almost unbearable. 

I may now be able to speak about my Pullman house.  When we purchased it, lo these seven years ago, NOTHING was alive in the yard.  Not even the weeds.  But... over the years, I added 100's of edible plants onto that little postage stamp yard.  A strawberry patch, a raspberry patch, an herb garden, grape vines over the entry trellis Huck made, fruit trees, other fruiting shrubs, and four raised beds.  From a wasteland to lush Eden in five years.  It was paradise. 

About a year ago, I figured that since I had this much bigger, nicer house and yard I'd be able to drive by the old place during a quick trip through Pullman and see how the trees were coming.  And so I did. 


I'm not sure I can even talk about it still. 

I first noticed the tall fence around the back, which was sad, because we'd had a deal with the neighbor who didn't use his back yard and we'd fenced both yards together so our kids couldn't get out and we had enough room to actually play in it.  But the new owners put up a huge privacy fence.  And they'd painted the picket fence we'd put up white... which was way too cliche for me, but it looked okay.  And then....almost as an after thought I noticed the yard. 


All the raised beds, the strawberries, the raspberries, the fruit trees, the herbs, the roses, the irises, even the mugo pines.  And what was in it's place?  Dirt.  And I hope they eat lots of it.  Enjoy the hell out of that dirt.  I regret ever selling that beautiful shimmering treasure of a yard to those assholes.  And the person who bid just $1000 less had even sent a letter about how much she loved the yard.  I would've taken 1000 less, with glee, had I known. 

My first thought, of course, was to kill them.  Especially when I realize that they probably had not found nor even appreciated that spot in the back yard where the wind comes through like a kiss, no matter the weather.  I could stand in that spot, close my eyes, and moan rapturously about the way that air would touch my arms, my neck, my cheek.  God, I loved that breeze.  And it was just that one spot.  And here they come, barging in, a bunch of filthy, degenerate marauders, slaughtering every thing beautiful in this world.  And for what?  For why were these imbeciles given the gift of life? 

My sister was with me, and when I cried out at that pit of hell that had replaced my paradise, she said, as she is overflowing with compassion for everyone in this world except me, "I don't see what the big deal is.  You sold it.  It's not yours anymore."  And she rolled her lovely cow-like eyes at me. 

As if we plant trees for them to be uprooted by gray-matter-less monsters. 
As if we have babies to send them to war. 
As if we conquer our inner demons so that others may slay us. 
As if we rise from our warm beds in the morning for death's purpose. 
As if Rosa Parks wouldn't care if blacks had to return to the back of the bus after she died. 
As if the suffragettes relinquished their desires for women to vote once they themselves passed on.
If we sow seeds that we may not necessarily ourselves reap, we want some one, anyone, to reap them. 
We do not plant ANYTHING so that it will be killed before it's lived a meaningful life, before it's fulfilled its potential.   

This possibility has occurred to me, as I dug in my new kitchen herb garden, as I fenced in Huck's new orchard, as I pondered the perfect places for our nut trees.  Some one, some one perhaps not even born yet, might some day own this land, might some day ruthlessly ransack every careful thing I've placed.  But still,  I plant.  Still, my grocery cart has a border of random four inch pots and their foliage.  Still, I water, I weed, I grow these things that some one, some day, might slaughter.  This is my compulsion.  This is my vice. This is my insanity.  This is the way my hope manifests.  And hope, we know, is an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers. (Edna St. Vincent Millay)


  1. I am sad and mad that those yard-destroying assholes tore it all out! I remember that back yard where I grew my first garden and made wine from the plum tree when I rented the house next door. It was a wonderful spot. I missed out on seeing it all fixed up by you guys after we left Pullman, but I bet it was an Eastern Washington oasis. We never know what the future holds for our efforts, but still, I say "keep planting!" The world needs more planters and less yard-destroying assholes anyway!

  2. Lara, I'd completely forgotten that you'd live in the neighboring house! Was it the brown one?

    Thanks for the empathy. I'll keep planting... I apparently don't know how not to.



Related Posts with Thumbnails