I have discovered a new love. I've been courted and tempted by this love for a long, long time but always I resisted. I told myself that I wasn't good enough, that I didn't have enough time or space or that it was a waste of my resources. But this season I have succumbed and in a big way.
It all started with a vision of Keith returning to a house decked out in flowers, with a lawn as green and thick as frosting. It would be my gift to him and my way of proving that I was up to all the responsibility he was handing to me as he left.
All through the months of fall as I watched the grass die and wither away and all through the long winter months, I dreamed of spring. Of fertilizers and the sprinkler, of flowers hanging off of windowsills and sitting in pots on the front steps.
I waited through all the gloriously hot and sunny days of March, knowing that the weather was only an invitation to calamity for the hasty minded. It was too soon to plant seed. I started to water the lawn, long deep soaks with the broken sprinkler that I had to move from place to place every ten minutes or so.
In the first week of April I sprayed on Revive and the green grass became greener but bare patches remained. I lugged away the heavy squares of dead sod from last summer, revealing packed soil beneath and raked up armfuls of debris. I bought Scott's Patch Repair and used Keith's hoe to break up the ground in the dead spots before applying the seed.
Yesterday, though, I knew it was time to really embark. I had paid all my bills, I had disposable income and a sunny day and it was mid April. It was time. Off I trundled to Walmart, suddenly filled with elation and talking first to my mom and then my dad about the best way to create pot gardens, which flowers were best for the sunny back deck and which for the shady front steps.
All the names were like prose; pansies, petunias and inpatients. Primrose, asters, and lobelia. At the store, I bought two sixteen inch pots, four hanging planters, two watering cans, two bags of potting soil, deep shade grass seed and finally, a new sprinkler.
I didn't like the selection of flowers there, so I went to Home Depot; the first time I'd been there without Keith. I hate going anywhere like that, I feel the pain of his absence sharply all over again before it dulls away into the usual quiet ache.
The flowers at Home Depot had spilled out of the Nursery and onto the pavement and I was drawn there, helpless to resist. I wandered around, stunned by all I saw. Eventually I bought three flats of pansies, blue and white.
At home I was too eager to stop for lunch, I grabbed an apple to crunch on for a snack and began potting. I loved the feel of the plants as they slid loose from the container, the roots perfectly compacted and damp, tender feeling to the finger tips. I arranged three hanging planters with pansies and hung them all along the roof of the deck.
Immediately the back deck seemed like a brand new place. I rearranged the furniture and planned in my mind where I would put the potted tomato plant and herb garden; along the sunny fence in the sun drenched corner, and placed the large pot that will contain my geranium next to the garage side door. I will put a window box to hang off the bit of deck railing that is there, and plants will trail down from it and it will be a glorious little corner.
How I love that geranium. Previously, everything I cared for, aloe vera, cacti and roses, all had slowly but surely sunk under my misguided care. But the geranium was the plant that actually proved to me I could keep things alive.
Keith bought it for me at the PX when we had gone there to buy a gift for his friend's little girl, who was turning three. Keith was on the lookout for a tiller and we wandered into the little garden area in the back.
He didn't see any tillers he liked, but I spotted the large, exuberant plant on display and coveted it. In the impulsive shopping way that he has, he swept it up among the other purchases. At the register, it rang up over twenty dollars and we looked at each other in dismay. But home it came.
It almost died when we were in Indiana and the neighbor didn't water it. It came back from the brink though, and in the late fall I brought it in doors, where it has since been languishing, first on one of Keith's speakers by the front window, until he noticed this in one of the pictures and put an end to that.
And then upstairs at the foot of the bed, where dead leaves fluttered down silently unto the carpet. When the days began to get sunny, I brought it into the kitchen and put it by the sliding glass doors, gave it plant food and lots of water and it sprung into life, putting out long, leggy shoots that reach out for the sunlight. It's been day tripping to the back deck the last few weeks, but I haven't let it spend the nights there, it's too cold yet.
The front yard now looks a sight, there are irregularly shaped blue patches were I put down the Scott's patch repair; the mulch it comes with is blue tinted recycled newspaper bits. And the entire half of one side of the lawn is bare and brown. That half is shaded by the towering pine trees and I sowed the grass seed there by hand, defying the instructions that told me I should use one of those spreader machines.
I soaked it all deeply last night and got up this morning to do the same when I saw to my horror that it was snowing. But the pansies are still bright and fresh and potting soil is spread about on the deck floor and the blue pot is out on the front steps, awaiting fillers. I want something that spills like froth over the sides and something tall and angular in the back and then something thick, with glossy leaves and white blossoms to bulk it out.
I'm going to plant yellow roses along the chain link fence that divides our yard from the good neighbor Larry and plant some glossy and verdant ground cover under the pine tree at the front corner. And this fall, I will plant bulbs all around the stones and the pathway to the front door. That way, next spring I'll be walking along side daffodils when I go to get the mail.
But mostly I dream of Keith coming home and the lawn grown out of the awkward adolesent stage it's in now and flowers everywhere, all the rock beds clean and white, pots spilling down the front stairs and an American flag in the now empty holder on the side of the house. The fact that I can begin to work on this, after almost a year's worth of dreaming is a delight undimmed by the snowfall.
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