Friday, April 15, 2011


Wren transplants seedling

My grandmother grew African violets. They dotted window ledges and side tables throughout our house. They always seemed to be in bloom, their velvety leaves offset by tiny jewel-colored flowers. I never paid much attention to them, perhaps they were too small or too precious, or they just couldn't compete with my dolls. But from time to time my grandma would divide and transplant her treasures and on those days, for me, everything else stopped.

You knew it was one of these special days when my grandma would cover the kitchen table with newspapers and start dumping out mounds of potting soil. And there would be my sister and me, hovering off to the side, waiting until she was done.

Our playing in the dirt probably involved small cars or toys. I don't know. I only remember the soil—its richness of color, its smell, its texture. I remember pushing it around, mounding it, scooping it, molding it. I don't think my grandma ever hurried us or scolded about the mess we must have made.

Now, as a gardner, I know what she knew then. Something as absolutely basic as dirt can bring the simplest joy. And yes, I still play in it.


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