Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tiny blossoms

When the lovely husband and I were first married, we bought a townhouse with a big back deck and a tiny patch of dirt. It was about two feet deep, just begging to be filled with something vibrant, a pretty picture frame for the deck where we'd grill our dinners and look at the stars. I ordered beautiful peony bushes online, so excited to think of those exuberant blossoms, haughty in their fullness, nature's pompoms hanging themselves like garlands on the boundary of our property.

So the thing about mail-order plants is that they don't come looking like their pretty pictures. Instead of full bushes I got six root stubs, rhizomes. I didn't even know which end went up. I planted them the best I could. They never grew.

I was faking it when I promised the girls a flower garden. We had a bunch of overgrown vines to rip out, leaving us with a westward-facing garden bed on the side of the garage. "We'll cover it in flowers," I promised, "and it will be gorgeous. We'll do it together." It was an easy promise to make, but I had no idea how I'd fulfill it.

And that's the thing about parenting: I don't have any idea what I'm doing. I'm no gardener and I'm no behavioral expert and this whole life here, the whole thing, it's fake-it-til-you-make-it. But the girls wanted beautiful flowers. We'll figure it out together, I thought.

When a friend offered excess flower bulbs across Facebook last summer, it was beshert, I decided. We'd plant that garden. One way or another...

We supplemented our narcissus bulbs with the purpliest selection our local home improvement store had to offer, and on a mild November day we dug and poked, dug and poked. It began to rain lightly as we finished and the girls took that as a good sign. All winter they asked when the flowers would arrive. "I don't know," I said a hundred times, wondering if they'd bloom at all. What if they were all upside-down? Or sideways? Or dug up and eaten by squirrels?

Ah, but faith always yields rewards:

Look at our tiny flowers, and the two big ones, too. I am so grateful for spring.
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