Seasons are cycles of anticipation and fulfillment.” — Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky: a Journey Home in Four Seasons
Spring has come early here, and I’ve been itching to mess around in the dirt.
When I had a yard and a fellow gardener, this time of year we’d be visiting nurseries, plotting our flower and vegetable beds on graph paper, and executing that plan. (And, just as I used to toss a bag of chips or something else not on the list into the grocery cart, I might add a plant or two just because it was intriguing and new or I felt sorry for it and thought, like my distant cousin Charlie Brown’s tree, it just needed some love.)
When I had a patio, this time of year I’d be plucking the pine needles and nascent weeds from the window boxes and flower pots, seeing what was coming back to life (hello for the fourth year, chives! Let it all hang out, creeping jenny!) and what microfield was ready for a new crop.
Now, in a second-floor studio apartment, I have no yard, no patio. There’s a plot of dirt in the back that a neighbor tends, and there are two stone planters in front that I’ve adopted. So the itch got scratched, briefly, by pruning two mums that were trying to come back to life.
The twin afflictions of spring and cabin fever make a perfect setup for certain kinds of impulse purchases, and they’ve been lying in wait in the lobby of my Kroger store. Thursday night when I stopped in for bananas and cat food, a small $1 potted plant practically sprang into my buggy. It’s a pothos plant, aka devil’s ivy, and is ubiquitous in casual restaurants and hotel lobbies and such because it is so easily to grow. Tolerant of low light, the information stick says. It will live in the bathroom for now, to take the place of the thing that died.
Last week it was a windowsill kitchen herb kit that got me: three little terra cotta pots, a dehydrated dirt-like substance, seed packets and fertilizer, all packaged in cardboard designed to look like a little wooden crate. There’s some Jiffy-Pop or magic-pill fun in pouring half a cup of water on the hockey-puck-shaped dirt disc and watching it grow to about four times its former height. And there’s some inner-child delight in messing with dirt indoors, spooning it into the pots and missing a bit. There’s gentleness and hand-eye coordination in opening the tiny packets of even tinier basil, chives and parsley seeds, deciding how many to use and trying to distribute them evenly. Then there’s the fertilizer.
“Organic fertilizer,” read the other little packet that came inside each pot. It looked like teeny-tiny clods of dried dirt, about the size of a pencil point that needed sharpening several paragraphs ago. Hm. What is this stuff? An experiment: put a few pieces in a drop of water. The water released its color, from gray to reddish-brown. It also released its smell. Hmm … about as organic and natural as it gets.
Then came watering, waiting, and watching.
Today everything is up.
And that’s pretty much it from here on out. Watering, waiting, watching. Thinning, maybe (I hate that part). Someday, harvesting! Then eating. And repeating. All of which might fit within the greenhouse of another word: trusting.