I decicate this Green Thumb Sunday to my mom.
So, why do I eat, sleep, and breathe gardening?
I always say I love gardening because it’s very meditative.
It clears my mind and helps me to feel at peace.
It helps me to feel connected.
It makes me feel part of the earth.
It’s because I love to watch things grow.
The truth is, it’s my mom’s fault that I love to garden.
My mother loved gardening.
She got her love for gardening from her mother who together with her immigrant husband started a fruit farm in Washington State.
When I was a little girl my mom would spend all her spare time in her garden. And her time was extremely limited since she raised three kids on her own, worked full time, cooked all the meals and made all our clothes. Yet, there she was, weeding, hoeing, and clipping.
Sometimes my mom would come running in the back door in and say, “I want you to come and see something.”
I knew what these words meant. What she wanted me to see was some sort of project she had just completed in her garden. She would say, “Hurry!” as though our whole yard was suddenly going to rip itself free from the earth, get up, and run away. Maybe afraid of what my mom might do to it next.
I would go along with her grudgingly, rolling my eyes behind her back as she presented her latest effort. It looked sort of the same to me only rearranged a little and cleaner, less leaves.
I would say. “Looks great mom,” turn on my heel, and head back in the house to watch the latest episode of “The Monkees” My mother would still be standing there mesmerized as though she were looking at Quentin Marsalis’ soul.
My mother was also a thief. Well, she didn’t knock off 7/11’s or anything like that. She stole plants. And I was her accomplice. This was the only part of gardening I liked. We would throw some burlap sacks and a shovel into the back of her 67’ Camaro and then we were off.
My mom would drive up to the mountains where there was no traffic and drive slowly along until she would spy some beautiful fern or euphorbia or wild Iris. Then she would stop, take out her shovel and scoop it up, put it into the burlap sack and drive away.
She would also walk through nurseries and other people’s gardens snapping off pieces of plants and putting them into her pocket. I didn’t really like seeing her do this. There was something disconcerting about seeing your mom stealing in plain sight of other people. My life in foster homes flashing in front of my eyes, while my mom did time for swiping pelargoniums.
These were the only times my mom ever did anything remotely questionable.
Our house was always filled with fresh vegetables and fruits from my mom’s garden. My mom canned and made jelly and jam so we could enjoy the fruits of her labor all year round. She harvested and shelled every last walnut saved from the squirrels from our nine walnut trees. She filled coffee cans with them and gave them away for Christmas for lack of disposable cash.
I was lucky. Before my mother passed, I realized my great love of gardening and I was able to share with her my passion. We were able to spend much time together in nurseries buying plants, sometimes stealing them. Going out to lunch with the window on my station wagon cracked so all the plants we had stuffed in the back could breathe.
Now I go to the nursery with my boys. My moms voice in my head, a secret dialogue I share with her. I hear her laughing, telling me what she likes, what she thinks I would like, and what I should do in my garden. She still influences me and always will.
Here is my Postscript:
If your mother is still alive, enjoy her, even if she drives you a bit crazy.
Happy Mother's Day.