May 15, 2013

I Dreamed of Green

I always wanted to live some place green.

I remember the day I decided my favorite color was green, because there was so precious little of it in the desert. I stood on the roofless playhouse my dad had built, looking out over the endless miles of dirt and Joshua trees. I promised myself when I grew up, I would live some place green.

By the time I was twelve, I was convinced I had a black thumb.

My parents had given me have a little plot of dirt in a corner of the backyard for my very own. It was a sunny, happy little plot, under an apricot tree. And I was determined to have an herb garden. I marked it off with a little wire picket fence. I painstakingly drew grids on graph paper and planned where every plant would go, taking into account amount of sunshine and water each needed, how big each plant would get, etc. I even put a patio chair in the corner, so I would have a place to sit and enjoy my garden. And over the next few years, I attempted to grow every herb you could think of.

First I tried growing them from seed (yeah, that didn't work).

So then I tried buying the actual plants: dill, basil, oregano, mint, thyme, sage. Everything herb-like that Wal-Mart stocked in their garden department.

I dumped months of allowance and babysitting money into my little plot. I planned, I planted, I watered.

And they died. One by one. The dill couldn't take the heat. Neither could the basil. I over-watered the aloe vera, rotting the roots. The sage shriveled up under the intense sunlight.

The one and only plant that survived my years of black thumb-dom was a lavender bush I planted under the apricot tree. Maybe the shade made the difference. Or maybe the water didn't leech away so readily. Whatever the reason, that one lavender bush took hold of the desert soil with abandon and within a few years, grew to a monstrous size.

Oh, how I loved that bush! Every spring I could look forward to a profusion of little purple flowers and a scent that captured my heart like no other. More than that, it proved I could grow things. My thumb wasn't black; the gritty desert soil simply conspired against me. The lavender gave me hope and when I moved away for college, I was sorry to leave it behind. Actually considered several (ill-advised) plans for taking it with me.

Now I walk the green grass in my front yard, delighting in all the little growing things that call it home. A newly planted daisy bush. Phlox that is coming back to life for its third year. Tiny nastursium leaves popping up out of the soil in yellow pots. Sweet pea seeds, planted but not yet sprouted. Lavender growing both in pots and in the ground. My yard will be a riot of color and beauty this summer. I have finally found a place where I can grow things.

I finally live some place green.

1 comment:

Ashleigh Baker said...

Did you know I think of you immediately when I catch the scent of lavender? Those were the good days... you watering your herb patch in the corner by the fence, me watering weeds in the raised bed by the clothesline. Tell me more of these stories, beloved friend - let's remember the good times together.