Daily Prompt High Noon At noon today, take a pause in what you’re doing or thinking about. Make a note of it, and write a post about it later.
Uh, no. Writing a blog post is my first activity of the day.
Yesterday I bit the bullet and went to Walmart in Alamosa. I don’t like Walmart much and I don’t like shopping. As last week I spent driving around the state of Colorado, I was also not all that eager to get into the car, but I felt the ticking of time. Spring is here. It’s April. If I don’t get that stuff in the ground, I might as well forget it. I also didn’t want to repeat the snow shovel embarrassment. I didn’t have tools. No leaf rake. No shovel. I felt nostalgic for the wonderful pickaxe I left behind in CA, but maybe I could replace it.
This isn’t California. People aren’t lining up for a parking place and then fighting over it. As everywhere, Walmart was full of people on Saturday, and the Saturday before Easter, even moreso. There was a huge banner saying, “Our Garden Center is Open!” I was happy, but it didn’t look very open. Within the chain link barrier that controls the migration of bags of peat moss and decorative bark, everything was tightly wrapped in green plastic.
I grab a cart in the lot and head in. It’s an obstacle course since, naturally, there are all kinds of things piled prominently in front to catch the attention of the impulse buyer. I’m here because of that. Last week when my house guest and I stopped here to buy dog food for the local shelter, I impulsively bought peonies and lilies…
All I really want to plant are iris, but not till fall, I understand. In CA I just put stuff in the ground (or in a pot) whenever I found it. Here? There’s frost, frozen ground, fourteen below and other obstacles to whimsical gardening.
I make it out to the Garden Section and find it’s more or less bereft of products. A few tired forced-for-Easter hyacinths and tulips, some pots, some bags of potting soil, lawn fertilizer. I think, “I have a lawn. Oh man, I’m going to have to deal with that.” Soon? Already dandelions are smiling sun-ward and I grapple mildly with the idea that I must kill them or pull them out. My mind wanders momentarily to family discussions between mom and dad about how to contend with weeds in the lawn; poison or the dandelion digger in the hands of a kid? For the past eleven years I had a dirt yard. Dirt doesn’t burn and dirt is low maintenance and has minimal watering requirements — perfect surface for drought-stricken California. Of course, there were the deadly foxtails that came up unbidden every spring. I fought with them constantly and dreaded their burrowing in my dogs’ fur or climbing up the narrow channels of their ears or nostrils. Foxtails can kill. No joke.
Nothing in the garden center, not that I need, anyway. I know I’m jumping the gun, but my bags of lily bulbs and the peonies say “Plant between mid-March and mid-April.” I have a week. I go back inside and find a sharp shovel and a leaf rake. A woman and her husband look around with expressions like the one I feel I must have. “Not much out yet, is there. I’m just looking for peat moss,” says the woman to me.
“Me too,” I say.
“Maybe it’s outside.”
“I looked and didn’t see any, but maybe I missed it. Maybe we’re jumping the gun.” Her husband smiled quietly behind her. Ah. There was their whole relationship. Well, she’s a lucky woman.
“There’s all that stuff wrapped up out there. Well, they can just unwrap it,” she says and they head out the door to that world of dismal faded bulb plants and philodendron. I pick up two bags of potting soil. I can mix that with the dirt outside to give my new little friends a better chance and warmer ground.
The leaf rake gets stuck in the shopping cart and a young man passing by un-sticks it for me. “Turn it around and it won’t get stuck.” “Thanks,” I say, remembering where I am in the anonymity of Walmart. I’m in Alamosa. People are friendly. It still shocks me.
There are already some crops in the fields between Alamosa and Monte Vista. I don’t know exactly what crops are grown all around me. Potatoes and barley. What else? The immense sprinklers have begun trekking slowly over the newly green mystery.
I suspect that I’m going to end up getting a green house. I know that my California clock isn’t going to change. I know I’m never going to believe that I can plant something in May and have any chance of seeing it ever.
I feel alien and strange here now. The excitement has worn off. It’s still beautiful, but I’m not part of it. Will I ever be? Do I want to be? I don’t have answers for either question. I’m probably fine as I am. In the supermarket I heard two big guys — tall and old — discussing cattle. I love that, but all I can do is love that. I never owned a cow and it’s not the same to simply like them (I do). I eavesdropped while pretending to be in a torturous dilemma over the choice of butter.”I had a heifer,” said one, “but I sold her. I regret that now.”
I imagined regretting a cow. “Cattle can be expensive,” said the other one, “they don’t always pay off. I’m still running them, but every year I think it’ll be the last.”
“That’s true, but she was a good heifer. I can’t replace her now for under $500.”
“I got some cattle a year ago for $150 a head. Some old boy wanted to unload his feed cattle.”
“Were they healthy?”
“Yeah, they were fine. That was a good deal. Can’t always find one like that, though.”
I get home with my potting soil and tools. I spade up a patch of dirt by the front door for the peony and mix in the potting soil. I lay out the peony rhizome careful not to set it too deep. It’s already leafing out. I see a woman running across the street, an older woman, and I wish I could run across the street. She comes to my gate and Dusty barks his head off in protest? Welcome? I go over to meet her. Another nice neighbor. Retired teacher, works as a substitute for the school district here. I hear her life story. People tell me things; it’s always been that way. I know the inevitable question about church is hovering in the conversation and sure enough; down it comes. I have an answer for it and I use it. Still, I think that question is more personal than, “What color are your underwear?”
I like her and hope we talk again. I return to the second part of my job; planting the lilies in memory of my Lily. Six stargazer lilies. I hope they grow.