Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Spring (the season) (07/23/09)
TITLE: Sing Along To The Spring Siren Song
By Kathy Warnes
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There is a spring siren song that always sets my green thumb twitching. Never mind that algae and mold are green, too. Never mind that I resolve that every year of gardening will be my last! Compelled by my twitching thumb, I spread seed catalogs, seed packets, potting soil and clay pots on the kitchen table just as the ancient Romans spread rose petals through the gardens in their marble villas.
Compelled by ghostly voices singing to me from the garden, I slip outside and kneel in the flower beds next to the house. I scowl at the winter whites, thinking of humus and fertilizer. Others are kneeling beside me here on this still frozen ground. I am in distinguished ghostly company. The ancient Babylonians were gardeners. One king in Babylon even planted hanging gardens in tiers to ease the homesickness of his wife who sighed for the hills of her native land. I sigh too and mentally mark off the rows that will be transformed into sunflowers, zinnias, and petunias. The king's garden became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Mine will be a wonder of the modern world if it survives a five year old's flower picking fingers and a ten year old's worm digging excursions for another year.
The Old Testament has instructions for planting and caring for fig and olive trees, I muse, as I put the pliers to the grape vines that look like the wrath of Jehovah and decide for the
umpteenth time to cut them out of the garden. The grapes they offer me in exchange for all of my pruning are shriveled and sour and not good for much but making a gallon of home made wine a year. Ah, but the wine! No fine wine served in golden flagons by Abraham in his tent can match the taste and aroma of that wine fermented from autumn perfumed grapes.
I put the pliers back in the garage and move on to the ancient Greeks. They shake their curly heads in horror at the crazy quilt disorder of my garden. They patterned their gardens, alternated small and large beds and installed fountains and planted arbors for variety. Gardening was an art to them to be practiced with consummate skill and dedication. "You left out one pertinent fact!" I yell at them over my retreating shoulder. "The ancient Greeks used slave labor in their gardens!"
Taking refuge in the square of land by the fence where the vegetable garden rests, I think positive vegetable thoughts. The neighborhood rabbits prefer my lettuce to any other, which is a form of natural selection and horticultural flattery. I am annually grateful when even one of my lettuce plants survives. I ignore the Babylonian king over there who planted a herb garden containing over different kinds of herbs. He could not have known my rabbits.
I remind myself that when I plant melons and cantaloupe this year have to consult the Commodore. Commodore James Barron brought melon and cantaloupe seeds to Germantown, Pennsylvania from Tripoli in 1818. The seeds appreciated Germantown soil. They grew, multiplied, and we are still planting their progeny. Studying the snow flecked soil, it is hard for me to believe this same vegetable garden "lets it all grow out" in the summer. That's probably because I am usually the only witness to its bountiful indiscretion. Everyone else is off performing mysterious missions that keep them from the chore of weeding the vegetable garden. Even now, I am the only inhabitant of the vegetable garden until the sparrow eyeing the bird feeder hanging on the fence swoops down to investigate the dining facilities. Some seed is still there, so I can retreat into my seed catalogs with good conscience and warmer fingers. The voices of the gardening ghosts plead with me to stay, but I still have a little more time before their voices combine to sing a gardening anthem, complete with soft spring breezes and the feel of the warm earth in my fingers. I know the anthem will lure me back out as soon as spring smiles her first warm smile and seeds stir to life for another season. Then I will wander out there in a trance, despite my best resolutions to abstain from gardening and take up jogging.
"I'll be back soon," I promise the gardening ghosts as I slam the door in their faces. I open it a crack. "And Iíll provide the slave labor!"
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