Friday, March 20, 2009

victory gardens count as work

Even for office workers, Fridays are not only for office work--especially after Thursday presentations go so well and the future of our book projects looks bright. It's with that spirit then that my neighbor and I exchanged emails today, lusting over our spring garden visions and flinging links of seed packets and plot maps over the web-fence to each other with breathless speed. This weekend, she and I will split up the unthinkable bounty of chard and kale we've got going, let the onions and cousins (shallots, garlic) continue their plot for world domination in their back bed, and, though both have worked wonders to retain the moisture from the blessed rain, cut back the grass and clover creeping over everything.

And then. And then with unabashed glee, I placed our modest order of the season, the one that makes me clap and swirl just at the thought--two precious packets of heirloom tomato seeds: a pineapple variety that hails from Kentucky, as well as the new Black Ruffle, a sexy, curvy cross between heirlooms Black Krim and Zapotec Pink Pleated. I love planting tomatoes more than anything else in the gardening world. They grow so furiously, their leaves reward anyone who brushes by with such an intoxicating springy smell, and the taste of them alone!--I love the need to prop them up and support them as they plump up with their photosynthetic ambitions. I confess it's all also steeped with a sepia-tinged, sentimental set of memories, how my old dog Shea used to sneak out into the backyard to pluck them off the vine, fling them over his head all around the yard, and leave the poor eclipsed prospects, all decimated and half-chewed, for the wild critters to clean up after him.

I can still see the view from my old kitchen window, only the tops of the tomato plants visible from behind a fence covered in ivy--how those tops would shake and shiver, telltale signs little man was crouched just on the far side of the fence, craning his neck forward to pluck a little snack, fresh from the vine. Could you blame him? So yeah, I love tomato time. It makes me deep with the happy, friends.

So happy it's one of those "all I can talk about" instances. I bored my poor coworkers at the company social yesterday, chomping the broccoli and carrots fanned out in standard form on the crudité tray and yammering about gardens and the inevitable icon that accompanies the conversational thread, Alice Waters, who had just appeared on 60 Minutes.

She'd long been challenging the White House to make something of the sprawling grounds just outside their every window. And in Michelle Obama, it appeared, Waters finally had found a sympathetic audience. We round-robined our conjecture--would Barack Obama end up pulling weeds for a photo-op? We thought not. Well as we talked about it, an article was being published to the contrary. Michelle Obama has plans for her husband and kids: weeding! And I figure, hey, if Michelle Obama can spare time in her Thursday to map a garden plot and Barack can take on the oxalis, well then my Friday emails must count as a valid day's work too.