At first, I wasn't sure. I had decided to put the vegetable/herb garden in yesterday. I knew it would be difficult without Bing.
Her back is still aching so she is doing a lot of resting up. She is sleeping through the night now and can watch television without having to get up and walk every ten minutes, but no yard work yet. Every year, Liv and I set out our starter plants in tiny containers in the basement around mid March. We have a whole section of the basement that is used for this. Luckily, we have a basement door leading to the outside, so it isn't horribly hard to bring them up to the garden, but it's a task that generally has Bing's name on it. Liv and I start the seedlings and then in early May, Bing brings all the trays outside for us to start up in the garden. This time, Liv would be doing it.
And I have a big garden. So, lots of running up and down the steps from cellar door to garden.
Liv asked if her friend, Kai could help put the garden in with us, attend the steampunk play with us and spend the night.
Is it bad that I felt hurt at first? Liv and I have been putting our garden in together since she was 2. Just us. This would be the first time an outsider did it with us. But, I thought about it and realized that Liv is now 12, she is growing up and away and that this would be more fun for her with a friend along. I had always expected that her joy over putting a garden in with me would fade as she grew into a teenager. That could still be true. But, now...well...if she wanted a friend, so be it.
I'm a willow, I can bend.
And it was fine. It was fun.
Liv and Kai brought up all the lovely baby seedlings who were clamoring to get their little rootsy feet into the newly tilled up dirt.
I sat, waiting next to the garden as they brought up everything. I wore my gardening hat for the first time this year and had my gardening gloves in my pocket, although I knew I wouldn't use them. I enjoy putting my hands in the dirt. Bing worked on grading papers inside. I don't think she could bear watching something that she couldn't be a part of this year.
Once all the baby seedlings were sitting out in the sunshine, their necks craning towards the yellow sun, we got to work.
It will be a glorious garden. We planted the Spring vegetables first. The baby carrots, baby lettuces, scallions, sweet peas, radishes, a gardener's delight heirloom tomato plant. They will be ready in less than a month (the tomato plant a bit longer) and make for a delicious salad some balmy day in late June.
The other vegetables were next. We planted our old standards: pole beans, cucumbers, okra for Bing, sugar snap peas, summer squash (and I loved a comment in my mother's old gardening diary: give them plenty of room, they produce an embarrassment of fruit!)
We planted several varieties of sweet peppers, with a new one to try: chocolate pepper and one sturdy looking hot pepper plant that only Liv will be able to stomach.
And then, my favorite...my heirloom tomatoes. The ones that I cultivate each year from seeds from their predecessors: roma, beefsteak, black cherry and Arkansas traveler, and the late blooming brandywine pink which will be last to bloom in early September.
We staked the peas, peppers and tomatoes and then, with hesitation, put in just four pumpkin seeds. These will grow alarmingly huge and by Halloween, produce huge orange pumpkins to be made into jack o' lanterns and our first pumpkin pies in early November.
And then we moved to the herb garden. It is also large. We planted basil, sage, endive, peppermint, that leggy rosemary who will run ragged if not cut back regularly, lemon verbena, lavender, parsley, chicory (delicious in coffee), witch hazel, monkshood and cowslip. And lastly, some catnip planted all around the herbs (the bunnies will eat this and get full and leave the rest alone) and then marigold to round the vegetable garden (the bunnies hate this smell and it sometimes stops them from raiding the garden at night...sometimes...)
Kai proved to be a happy gardener. At Liv's request, I didn't sing this year as I usually do, in my quite terrible soprano. Instead, I let the girls pump their own music out of our boombox.We listened to music from Austra, Colleen Green, Craft Spells, The Deeep and one I particularly enjoyed: Exitmusic. I was educated. I'd never heard any of these people before. But, I was pleasantly surprised. Some of it was quite lovely, others...not so much, but not horrible.
The plants were quivering with excitement. At one point, Kai noted, "It's like I can feel how excited they are to be growing, stretching, you know?"
I really like Kai. A new member of my tribe, certainly.
Once everything was set and we had laid down the watering hoses, homemade by Bing years ago...these are regular garden hoses with tiny holes poked in them that snake through the garden. Instead of exhausting watering, I have only to turn the water on to the hose lightly and it gives the plants a slow steady drink of cool water for hours in small gulps. The plants thrive on this.
The hard part will come, I told Kai. There is the weeding. Since we don't use pesticides, we do all of weeding by hand and it can be back breaking. I try to do most of it during the cool of the day, in the soft summer evenings, just before dusk. Bing probably won't be able to help much this year, so Kai offered to come over twice a week in the mornings to weed. We made a deal. She would weed and I would send her home with baskets of vegetables.
"My mother will love this!" she said. "I think I will give her this as a mother's day gift."
I can't think of a better way to show your love for your mother.
I told her that she could pick flowers too, as many as she liked. We have so much. Bachelors buttons, lilies of the valley, bells of Ireland, buttercups, forget-me-nots, bleeding hearts, primroses, snapdragons, sweet briar, sweet william, larkspur and lastly...a tiny plant of snowdrops that Liv bought for me for an early mother's day gift. Hopefully, it will bloom and hold. I had to put it a bit too close to our rosebushes and I am not sure how they will tolerate this newcomer. Roses can be very, very persnickety and vain. They don't like to share their stage with anyone.
The calla lilies and peonies are already up in the front garden.
By June this will be breathtakingly gorgeous. I can't think of anything I love more than a garden, except, perhaps.....a really good book.
Gardening will now become my part time evening job. My blog will suffer. I will read less, but my soul will thrive. There will be little to no television watching. The long Winter nights of reading and watching my shows will be replaced by gardening until the light dims to where I can no longer see the weeds or my pruning sheers.
But, I will be almost unbearably happy on those long nights in my garden. I feel about gardening the way I feel about reading. Like...how can one dislike either? They are both just...gifts for the soul.
Well, so...the garden is in. Then it was time to prepare for......steampunk.
Bing had come home a few weeks ago with the news that her high school was putting on it's first steampunk play and we decided that it was a good opportunity to educate Liv about the brilliance of this play genre. So, Bing got us tickets (and a few spares for Liv to bring a friend or two, she is at the age where it is not always fun to hang with the 'grups) and we spent several weeks putting together our costumes to wear. For those of you who don't know steampunk...you need to see one. It's like...American Wild West, mixed with Victorian England, mixed with Mad Max, and then topped off with Alien. It's edgy, wild theater and the audience is allowed to be part of it, to dress up in outrageous costumes and be entertained before and after the performance with palm readings, card tricks, rhyming poems, traditional songs and vaudeville piano playing. If any of you are fans of the show, Firefly....that was close to steampunk in many ways.
So, we all dressed for the part: Bing, me, Liv and Kai.
I came out in my flouncy victorian skirt and mad max boots, with a large cloche hat with a big feather and there were Liv and Kai, looking like half punk, half Calamity Jane throwbacks. Bing was the least dressed of all of us, content to wear a long gunslingers coat over her jeans.
As we walked to the car, I heard Kai say to Liv in a hushed voice, "Your mom is so cool! I mean she is like this hippie woman gardening guru and then she turns into sort of a punk Florence Nightingale at night. Really cool!"
And then, of course...there was Liv, looking at her in humorous disbelief.
"My mom reads AARP magazine too, and she wears teal warm up suits in the Winter. She also snores and orders her shoes from this company who specializes in footwear for women with hammertoes....she's not THAT cool, Kai!"
So, down with a thud.
But, I get it. At Liv's age, the last thing she wants is a cool mom. OTHER moms are cool, not me. She's the one who sees me eating Activia yogurt every night to keep myself regular.
But, it was fun to go to the play, even though it was a high school production and I am not certain that the players fully understood all the pithy lines that they uttered. One of the characters, called Justice...had a line about not being blind and I felt certain that the actress who uttered it had no idea what she was saying. But, we had fun. About half of the audience dressed in steampunk and Liv, Kai and I had our palms read. According to the palm reader, I have an extremely long life line, have a very close family and when she told me that I had two lovely children and I corrected her and said that no, I just had the one child, she raised her eyebrow at me and said, "Um, are you sure? Because I see two kids here, ma'am."
Well, I'm 53. A bit long in the tooth to be raising another.
Liv's palm showed a very happy marriage and lots of money. Kai's palm showed that she will have a successful career in a healing profession and be a bit of a gadfly when it comes to settling down.
I suspect that the palm reader must have mixed up my palm and Kai's.
After the play, we all went home and Bing and I went right to bed (further proving that I am hardly a cool mom. I mean, I can't even stay up to watch SNL, for pete's sake) and the girls stayed up to watch movies and eat popcorn. When I woke up to a thunderstorm around 2 a.m., I found them both sound asleep on the living room sofa, oblivious to the pounding storm. Socks lay between them, a piece of popcorn resting gently on his nose.
Now, it's Sunday and Kai and Liv are at a movie starring Kai's crush, Zac Ephron, while I recuperate from planting a garden yesterday and Bing makes the grocery list for Whole Foods.
Tonight it the season finale of The Amazing Race. I want Rachel and her military man spouse to take it.
And I went out to check on my garden, my flowers, to make sure that they survived the thunderstorm last night. They look a little soaked with their wet leaves and stems tipping just a little bit in the rain drenched soil, but they look happy to be here.
So am I....