I watered the plants this morning before the sun was up. Because of the ninety degree days, half of my plants were not only wilted, but scorched. I sort of hate the foreboding of deep summer humidity in the morning because the mosquitoes are agitated, and you know the humidity will only increase when the sun comes up.
Sometimes I do yard work in my nightgown if I can get away with it. At this hour only an occasional school bus passes the house, which from the kids’ perspective, is probably the worst kind of traffic to catch their mother bending to pull a weed in her house dress. But the middle school kids have already left for school, and there is a lull until it’s time to wake up the elementary school kids for the next wave.
Sometimes I say my prayers in the lull, or take a shower if I’ve got somewhere to go. Occasionally, there’s a rogue early riser who wants to sit next to me on the couch and stare at the shadows on the wall as they move from the tops of the windows, down to the floor and disappear into the day.
Today, I was outside watering the geraniums with my new coiled hose. It has a seven setting nozzle and it bounces back to the spigot when you let go of it. I’ve finally realized that if you want something to grow, you’ve got to invest in it. Fertilize regularly, water at least every other day, pinch off the dead parts. I hate to say it, but this is the first year I’ve had any success with my plants.
When I had my first child, someone gave me my first houseplant, a peace lily, and suddenly I wanted more plants. I was in the throes of creation, bearing kids. Life begets life. I wanted more life, more kids, more plants, a garden, to plant trees, a dog. My husband took up woodworking, started caring about heirlooms.
The peace lily lasted a year or two. The dog lasted three. At the end of every summer, I’d throw away the pots of annuals with relief since a week or two after I brought them home from the nursery they were suffering and anemic.
Of the early heirlooms my husband made, several have already been refinished. There are a few scars and knicks that can’t be sanded out. Drawers and handles have been replaced.
Other people’s bounteous flowers that once made me so envious–they don’t happen by accident. There is probably some woman stirring up a pitcher of miracle gro before I’m even awake. Life is not an accident. Someone always initiates and tends it.
I suppose it takes some time before the desire for life is reconciled with the responsibility it entails. Every morning my eyes flicker open out of a sense of duty, but I’m not usually happy about it until a couple of hours have passed. There’s work to be done, and I hate it, until I’ve completed it. Then I love it. But if I never do it, somehow the whole day feels like hate.
I wake up the kids, and the next time I look out the window, it’s raining. Didn’t see that coming, but it’s good. Watering keeps my favorite plants alive, but there is nothing better than when the whole yard gets a good soak.
We run to the car at the heaviest moment, amidst the bulbous wet drops that evaporate off the kids’ heads and fog up the windows inside the car. When we hear the crickets again, we know the rain has stopped, just as quickly as it came on. A bird chirps under the wet leaves and it sounds so loud and foreign, like the first robin that sings after the winter, and you realize–I haven’t heard that pretty noise in a long time.