Actually, it’s February, and it snowed the last two days, and then it thawed and froze and snowed again. It’s not even starting-plants-in-the-garage time yet. The House Leroy pointed this out to me at 5:30 this morning, as I was prying my eyes open and simultaneously decrying the fact that last night I had filled a shopping cart full of seeds on Amazon at prices that hardly seemed credible, only to learn that while I might only be paying $32 for these seeds, I was going to be paying $28 in shipping. I was also mourning that even at those shipping rates, I couldn’t be sure that the organic, non-hybrid, open-pollinated, heirloom tomatoes I had selected would actually taste good in sandwiches–or grow big enough to make them.
“I didn’t mean to to actually plant them now,” I said, blearily watching my hazelnut creamer swirl into my coffee.
“But you’re supposed to,” Leroy said. “Now’s the time. We should be planting them now.”
“But you just said they’d freeze.”
“Now’s the time to start them,” he said, and sipped his own coffee (plain creamer).
“But it’s the waning moon.”
“Huh?” asked Leroy.
“Everything that produces above the ground should be planted during the waxing moon, and everything but the onions…”
“Yes, I’d like to. To repel ants.”
“You’re thinking onions. By the house. Onions are…aromatic,” he suggested delicately. The word sat oddly on his tongue. Leroy is many things. Delicate is not among them. “Aromatic. By the house,” he stressed.
“Yes,” I said, fresh from having browsed the seed sites. “Aromatic plants repel ants. We have lots of ants.”
‘You want to repel aunts?” he asked, waggling his runaway eyebrows so I’d get the joke.
“I’ll have to see what plants do that,” I said straight-faced. “We have lots of them.”
“Yes, we do. But we can’t find the hills. We only see them when they have wars.”
I thought about my many aunts waging war in my flowerbeds, and on the front lawn. It wasn’t as bizarre an image as I might have wished. “Well, I still like aromatic plants by the house, to sort of keep them away. Onions. Or garlic. Or maybe mint, or bee balm.”
“By the porch. Bee balm.”
“Yes. I think so.”
“You plant bee balm by the porch and you and Patrick’ll never leave the house. You run inside now every time you see a bee. I’ll be out there enjoying the porch all by myself.”
“Maybe not bee balm,” I reflected. “But maybe spicy hot thyme, basil, rosemary. The site says eggshells–”
“You should draw a map of your property, and mark where everything is, and where you want everything, so we can plan it,” he said, and watched me closely so he wouldn’t miss the second when my head exploded. It was just too early for a conversation like that. I finished my coffee and went back to bed, only to dream that I had married a treasure-hunter/terrorist, and he held all doors open for me to pass through first not because he was a gentleman but because it was his little way of making sure that none of his enemies were in the room. Speaking of which: rooms in the stony, dusty underground caverns we frequented were lit by aiming flowing hoses of raw petroleum products at sparking wires. And I was baby-sitting a teenager who didn’t want to go to school and kept running away and hiding in clefts in the rocks.
When I gratefully arose for the second time this morning Leroy was lying in wait. “You should draw a map of your property, and mark where everything is, and where you want everything, so we can plan it,” he said again.
This was something of a reversal. When we talked about gardening last week I began to discuss my plans: “I’d like to put in raised beds here and fill them with tomatoes and herbs and I’d like to plant mint and lemon balm here and maybe hang some pots here…we’d need another pergola…”
“I will be planting a few tomato plants,” Leroy said. “That’s me, gardening. A few tomato plants. Maybe some zucchini and onions. Everything else is on you.”
Which, being interpreted, meant that we will be having a few tomato plants, maybe some zucchini, and onions, since while I shine at waving my hands around and drawing graceful word pictures of my dreams, Leroy is the one who actually does the weeding, watering, and tending that makes them come true.
So here he was, this morning, actually inviting me to draw a map and plan out where I want everything to go.
And I find myself strangely resistant to the idea. Now I just want a few nice tomato plants, some zucchini, some onions…and maybe some lemon balm, lemon bee balm, some mint, some rosemary, some delphiniums, some more foxgloves and some double and triple peaches and cream hollyhocks to augment the seeds we saved from last year… and snapdragons, more snapdragons…
So we’re going seed shopping today. But I’ll be darned if I’m going to plan anything. We’ll start the tomato seeds in the garage when frost danger is past, and then we’ll transplant them out by the fence. I’ll plant all the other seeds the way I always do: I’ll walk around sometime in May, seed packets in my hands. “Here’s a bare patch,” I’ll say, and then I’ll tear a packet of seeds open (short if it’s toward the front of the flower bed, medium if it’s in the middle, tall if it’s in back by the fence) and I’ll pour the seeds out, kick a little dirt over them, and walk on bathed in a warm gardening glow.
Note: no vegetables featured in this post except for the nice tomato and maybe some onions will set foot in our garden. They are included for decorative purposes only. Don’t expect to see them anywhere around if you come to my house.
And by the way, the veggie art grew out of copyright free drawings which I painted and folded, spindled and mutilated. The header and the flowers out of which it is fashioned is my own art. Do not even think of stealing it, or I’ll come plant Aromatic Plants under all your windows, and tell my soldier aunts where you live.