Creative Nonfiction Funny Inspirational

Fields of wildflowers, baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables, the smell of freshly tilled soil: to quote an old song "These are a few of my favorite things."

I was raised in cities all over the world as the child of a United States Navy sailor. Some countries have multiple tropical forests filled with ferns, flowers, and the earthy smell of mud. Other countries are miles and miles of farmland, rice fields, coffee beans, and exotic fruits. Even in the busiest cities apartment balconies overflowed with potted plants and flowering bouquets. Our wonderful planet is filled with the glorious smells of Mother Nature's Bounty.

All of my life this thrill of seeing these marvels of Nature has filled me with joy...and...self-pity... you see, I have learned I have a "brown" thumb. I have dreamed of the perfect garden since my childhood.

My first gardening experience was in first grade. The teacher gave each student a square plastic container, some potting soil, and a bean seed!

We decorated the container, marked our names for all to see, filled them with the soft, cool, brown dirt, then planted the bean inside. Days later, little sprouts were springing up from many of the pots. The teacher told the rest of us to be patient, some beans need more time. A few days later and all the beans were growing into giant dark green stalks...except one...mine. There was my little pot with a light green sprout, folded over, staring at the dirt as if it were sad or ashamed of itself. Perhaps it was even telling the other students that I had sniffed all the goodness out of the dirt? The other children laughed mercilessly.

Yards and gardens, even potted plants were not allowed in some of the military housing areas where we were able to live, my dream remained that, just a dream.

Yet every new duty station I hoped for a house with a yard to plant a garden or a room of my own to keep a houseplant. Sadly, the military has a rule that siblings of the same gender must share a room so I could not have a houseplant because my baby sister might eat it or some parental nonsense.

My second attempt at growing something came with my first apartment. I asked everyone what type of plant was best for a first-timer? What flowers required little care as I was employed full-time. The consensus was to get a Pothos. (Epipremnum aureum - the scientific name even gave me hope as it looked to say a premium aura)

"Anyone can keep a Pothos alive," they said, my excitement and my hope grew!

I found one at the local market, its smooth, shiny, heart-shaped leaves seemed to say "Hi! Take me home, I'll be green and pretty forever" I took it home, spoke lovingly to it every day, watered it precisely as instructed.

Three months later it was a shriveled, stringy, dry vine in a pretty box. I cried.

For years after that tragic plant murder, I decorated my home with plastic flowers in vases, silk trees in baskets, even wax fruits, and vegetables in large bowls, anything to have the semblance of Mother Nature's bounty near me, all without having to relive the heartbreak of killing another living thing.

"Maybe someday I can try again" became my mantra, gradually building hope and confidence inside myself. We bought a piece of property in Napa County, California. the bread basket, okay, the wine barrel of America. Everything grows in Napa!

There are hundreds of vineyards, with thousands of acres of sweet juicy grapes of all colors and sizes. At the end of each row of grapes are 'companion' flowers, fragrant roses, and climbing azaleas. Between the harvests, there is a tall, grassy, bright yellow mustard plant that smells divine. This area is Mother Nature at her most beautiful, her most diverse, it is gardening at its glory.

Weekly Farmers Markets showcase the array of vegetables grown here. Even weeds such as 'Star Thistle are magically turned into thick rich honey. Nearby orchards display their many species of fruits and nuts.

I know I am nuts..er.. crazy to want to try my hand at growing things again, but I have an acre of California's richest dirt, what could possibly go wrong? I would never forgive myself if I didn't at least try, I mean, even the "Black market" folks have a flourishing "weed" business here.

The gal at the local nursery says she will help me get set up... (is she foreshadowing?) ..haha (Stop now be confident) She talks me into the "easy" plants. Kale, cabbage, green onions by seed. Strawberries and tomatoes are already six inches tall! Yahoo they are already bigger than my poor little bean ever got to be. I've got this!

I put the dirt from my yard into canvas pots with a thin layer of chicken wire below them so the gophers don't eat the roots. I have brightly colored ribbons hanging from the stakes identifying the plant-to-be and the birds should be frightened by it. I even moved my trashcans from the budding backyard farm to the front driveway so the local possums, skunks, and raccoons are not tempted to sneak in either.

Again, I water precisely as directed, feed them the perfect plant nutrition, and I even plead with them to please, please, grow.

Spring turns to Summer, the tomatoes and strawberries are almost red, the kale is leafy and oh so ready. The green onions tops stand up straight and tall!

Ah, tomorrow then, tomorrow I will pick this treasure. I will make myself a salad using all these wonderful foods that have grown for me. In my garden. I fall asleep to sweet dreams, proud to have reversed my history of a murderous brown thumb.

I awake early, I prepare my clippers and baskets, I dress for my time in the Sun, and walk out to ...nubs...sticks...canvas bags filled with only dirt...what happened?

Where are my beautiful plants? There are no neighbors to steal them, I know this wasn't a dream, what could have happened? I fall to the ground in tears, heavy sobs of loss and grief...and that is when I see the answer...or rather feel the answer.

What did I fall on? It appears to be a pile of black...beans?

The leftovers of my garden in the form of a Thank You, dropped off by the local deer.

March 27, 2022 21:55

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22:27 Apr 06, 2022

I enjoyed this story! It has a good sense of humor mixed in with the very real upset of never being able to see a dream come to fruition but always getting so frustratingly close. Thank you for sharing!


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Davie McGuinn
21:39 Apr 06, 2022

Very relatable. I've been gardening off-and-on for about ten years now. Sometimes you're disappointed and sometimes you're surprised by what comes up!


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14:41 Apr 05, 2022

I hear your pain! I’ve been there too. Nature always wins, right? This was a really enjoyable read.


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