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April 17, 2007

The plants are still green -- this must be a gardening world record!


Well, it's a record for me, anyway.

Already, what? Two, three weeks and nothing has died except one lone okra seedling that got sat on by a big blue jay (to all the folks about to email me and remind me: Yes I remember you schooled me that it is a "Western Scrub Jay." I know, I know, but it's blue and I call them Blue Jays because I am rebellious that way.)

So one seedling died shortly after planting when it got sat on by a forty-ton Blue Jay, and everything else is actually alive and growing.

Even the tree out back has sensed the departure of Francisco and has started to grow leaves! After its terrifying near-death prune of 2006, I'm surpised to see it make the effort, but somehow nature has sensed the disappearance of Francisco and made a valiant effort to re-grow.

Dez assures me that Francisco has re-located to the New Orleans area and sent me this photographic proof:

Thanks, Dez. Looks like we have answered the "Where in the world is Franciso And His Mighty Pruning Shears Of Death" question once and for all. I think he's probably making the world tour of his fans... next week he might be in Wisconsin with Dale-Harriet, then he'll be in the southwest to visit Psychomom, and when the nor'easter clears out, I can only assume that Francisco will be standing in Maryse's yard in Boston, pruning shears in hand, waiting to hack something to pieces. (Ya'll give Maryse some love, her kitty Napoleaon passed on last night.)

The neighbor across the street from me uses Abel the able as her gardener but I didn't ask her for the number (I had his card somewhere, anyway, from that time I met him) and I specifically didn't have the landlord call him.

The very first gardener I had at this little house was really goodlooking and dark-haired and hardly ever spoke. It was so rainy that year, I moved in just before Christmas and I was alone with a mountain of boxes and it was A Bad Time for me, I sat on the patio all night long smoking and staring at fat raindrops, watching night slosh into morning.

The dark and silent gardener came once a week, first on weekdays but eventually timing it so he was there on weekends when I was home. He had that way of looking right through me like he could see I was lonely, so that when he was replaced with Francisco a few months later I was actually relieved. There was a time when I could have been had out of lonely and sorrow and that's never a good place for me to be, in the end.

And even now, now that I am all personal growthy and not stunk up with heartbreak and late-night cigarettes and forever-insomnia, I still think it is best not to have a very, very attractive young gardener.

I'm too practical, really.

The hedges and grass would still keep growing even if I grew tired of him, or he tired of me. Awkward wouldn't even begin to describe such a thing. And I'm no good at resisting temptation. I sure know messes, and I don't plan to volunteer for more if I can avoid it.

At least not messes that come to your house every week and have a key to the back gate.

Maybe that was too much information. Maybe all of this is, the whole diary. But I remember too clearly how it felt to be married and lonely and wearing too much makeup to the grocery store, looking for a little attention, maybe not even knowing it at the time.

Flirting with the gardener seems like a bad idea. It feels reminiscent of a time in my life I wish I could un-remember. I feel a little sad and humiliated to have been so married and yet so lonely that I just wanted a check-out clerk at the market to look at me like I was pretty.

Lord I am glad not to be back there anymore.

So the new gardener came by yesterday after work and I showed him the back forty and gave him the key to the gate. He is about 50, and tanned smooth brown from a job he spends outdoors, and he's very businesslike and gave a quick assessment of the trimming work Francisco had done.

"This guy was not knowing anything," he said very seriously. Gravely. He looked at the shrubs in front and sighed so deeply and morosely I knew he could feel those damn hedges hurting, in pain. I just thought they were funny, my little forest of stunted trees shaped by madness and half-dead from neglect.

His name is Juan and he brought his little boy Kenneth along for the walk-through and they admired my peppers but couldn't quite get the okra. I don't know the Spanish word for it, and anyway it's not a staple in Mexican food so I told him he'd just have to wait and see.

Then they watched as one of the fat, surprisingly large blue birds swooped down onto the patio and took a peanut from the bowl I fill each day, or when I remember to fill it. Those birds love peanuts. Sometimes they sit on the chairs and squawk at me until I fill their bowl.

"That is a BIG Blue Jay," said Kenneth.

"It's a Western Scrub Jay," I informed him. Just because.

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P.S. I'm sorry the comments are being weird and slow and sometimes quadruple posting. I suspect the mystical comments machine thinks I am lonely and wants me to think I have a lot of friends. I deleted the messy duplicates where I could then I got tired and stared at my toes.

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Posted by laurie at April 17, 2007 9:54 AM