Pam’s Pictorama Post: These are strange days for me as spring arrives in New Jersey this year. I am here for a stay of indeterminate length during what appears to be my mother’s lingering last illness. I have written before about the sense of being in a liminal space – between two periods in my life that in many ways will define the before and the after. That sense has only increased recently as I perch on the threshold of this personal sized seismic shift.
I miss my daily life in Manhattan: my husband, my cats, my bed (we have an unbelievably hard mattress), and I miss actually sitting down with my co-workers daily. Still, it is human nature to make things as pleasant as possible where we are and I have done this by largely by dint of cooking and running. (I have written about that previously in posts that can be found here and here.) Earlier this week a friend dropped flats of pansies off for me saying it was nice to do do something for the future and today I added planting to the list.
While I have been around a lot of gardening as an observer, I have in fact never gardened. I suppose this is not surprising given that I have lived my entire adult life in Manhattan without so much as a fire escape. Kim has a green thumb and under his casual attention plants do seem to thrive in our bright living room window. Still, if my ability to keep houseplants alive was anyway indicative of my ability say, to care for pets or people it would be a not-green thumbs down I am afraid.
However, in her day my mother was a superb gardener. One of my earliest memories is of a huge rock garden in the back of our house in North Jersey and watching her work in it, our cat and dog sniffing around. I must have been just three or four.
When I was a tad older we had moved to the shore and I can remember my mother coaxing vegetables and flowers out of the sandy and salty soil, and fighting a freakishly high water table. I had a child’s joy over the immensity of sunflowers which towered over us and tomato plants which delighted me . Laawn never interested mom and hers was nominal. (Dad traveled for work and never really had anything to do with the yard. Mom did it all.) She was and is all about plants and trees.
In the house subsequent to that one, but still on the waterfront the garden was somewhat more elaborate with herbs, strawberry and grapevines. Bunnies and squirrels helped themselves liberally to those edibles as well as dandelions and other delectables .
So earlier this week the same friend took me to Lowe’s where I assembled a cache of potting soil, a spade, some clippers and a lone adolescent tomato plant – Jersey tomatoes being a summer delicacy for this Jersey girl. Shop Rite (as big as several city blocks) produced a length of lightweight hose. The Dollar Tree provided some lightweight garden gloves. It seems I was ready to plant some pansies.
Luckily this project was pretty low stakes as said pansies were already in bloom and just pleading for soil and water, a straightforward assignment for the rookie me. However, the pots I thought I would use proved too small and too deep. Luckily rooting around in the basement coughed up some appropriate vessels. The nozzle on the new hose proved unexpectedly challenging I am somewhat embarrassed to admit, but we came to an agreement without my getting entirely soaked.
Somehow, all the plants found their way to pots, fit appropriately and were watered – which was good because the promised rain never showed. Mom was pleased with my efforts on behalf of the yard and a rakish stake with a whirligig red bird stuck in the tomato plant container for a finishing touch.