Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Promise of Spring*

When we got our seedlings from eBeth a month ago or so, I killed one of mine.% I knocked it over right there in eBeth's kitchen, burying its fragile leaves and delicate stem under a honking pile of potting soil, compost and perlite.

I took it home and propped it up on a bamboo skewer, but the next morning it wasn't even a green smear in the earth. So I planted a cucumber seed in its place§ and went on with my life.

[SUMMARY: To everything, turn, turn, turn...]

A couple of days later, I took my remaining six tomato plants outside to harden them. Carefully following instructions,# I left them in the May sunshine for an hour then brought them in.

They were all noticably yellowed and a couple had brownish-greyish spots on them. I had burned my poor little tomatoes.†† Not fatal, as it turns out, but very sad. With all the rain we've had in Denverish lately, I couldn't take them out much, so they had a chance to recover in peace.

All but the littlest one recovered. It continued to look miserable. Alive, but miserable.

Sunday morning‡‡ I decided to take a trip to the garden center§§ for some herbs and another cucumber and I figured a good, solid beefsteak tomato would be a nice addition¶¶ to the more colourful heirlooms I already had.

I stopped to visit the plants on the way out and that tiny, spindly tomato -- a brandywine -- was more pathetic than ever. It was plastered to its bamboo stake and transluscent like wilted lettuce. I stroked it gently## and decided to get another brandywine at the garden center.

[SUMMARY: I'm both sentimental and practical.]

"After all, self," I said to myself, "if the spindly little guy makes it, you'll have that many more tomatoes to can. This can't be a bad thing."

The demon in the back of my brain was screaming, "It's going to DIE! You killed ANOTHER ONE! Are we there yet? There is NO HOPE! Can we get ice cream?"†††

Until that sickly tomato actually disappeared, I wasn't willing to give up on it. I put it out with the others Sunday for a full day of sun and fresh air. I brought it in at night and there it's stayed through a rainy Monday and Tuesday.

Today, there's a new leaf.‡‡‡ And it's standing on its own, tiny and delicate, but upright. And the leaves are growing out from the stem§§§ instead of hanging down in a most untomato-like way.

[SUMMARY: Cue the Handel! Sing out, Messiah! Hallelujah!]

As a chick who clicked her car fob at the electronic entry point on the office door *four times* before figuring out why the door wasn't unlocking,¶¶¶ I find this tale of hope and resurrection### very comforting.

*FOOTNOTE (asterisked, oddly enough): hearts and flowers... lalala...

%FOOTNOTE (percented): Well, it wasn't really mine until I wrecked it.

FOOTNOTE (crossed): Honking if you're a quarter of an inch tall and have the tensile strength of bunny fur.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): All my tiny tomato plants have tiny bamboo stakes I made out of vegetable skewers. That's very nearly ironic, isn't it?

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): Which had two leaves three days later, so I like to think its tragic end wasn't for naught.

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): It's like plant porn.

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): Apparently not carefully enough to read to the part where one should put them in dappled sunlight to start.

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): The next day, there was a flurry of emails from the group of us intrepid gardeners. I wasn't the only one who burned her seedling.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): I woke up at 7 frickin' o'clock. And went back to sleep. And when I woke up, I figured it was 10:00 and I'd better get moving or I'd lose the whole day. I went to the garden center, the office supply store, the pet supply store, Home Depot and Chipotle and was home by 11:00. Did daylight savings time end Sunday? I'm pretty sure I got an extra hour. At least.

§§FOOTNOTE (tendrils): The beauty of a new hobby is the wide vistas of new shopping it spreads out before you.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (sprinkler heads): For those of you wondering what a single chick needs with six tomato plants, I will be canning. Just call me Betty Crocker.

##FOOTNOTE (trellises): Because stroking your plants is a professional gardener-approved addition to the hardening process. Heheheheheheh. Plant fluffer.

†††FOOTNOTE (stakes): My inner demon is four.

‡‡‡FOOTNOTE (oregano!): I have yet to turn it over. *rimshot*

§§§FOOTNOTE (garden twine): OK, it still looks a little like a weeping willow (weeping tomato?), but it's noticably perkier.

¶¶¶FOOTNOTE (bulbs): If any of the PTB had seen me, I believe they would have fired me on the spot. After they stopped laughing, of course.

###FOOTNOTE (row markers): Dudes, wouldn't resurrection be a SPECTACULAR add to my saintly résumé?

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