swapping plants for plants

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A friend told me of a local plant swap, in which gardeners of the area dig up plants they don’t want/need/like and exchange them for other’s gardener’s discards.
With my mother in cahoots, we both gathered ten things — good things; green, vibrant, lovely stock, in our estimation — and I took the booty to the swap at the crack of ten this morning on the isle of Yukon.
At the check-in table I swapped my messy little buckets of stuff — hey! I never got those buckets back! I just this moment thought of that…I liked those buckets… — for twenty tickets, the kind I’d get for a chance to win door prizes or raffle items. At precisely ten ‘o five, we lined up, me and several elderly gardener folks, and we ran like cattle toward tables set up with everyone’s offal.
This was the system: line up, move forward, as you pass the lady with the bowl of tickets, drop yours in, grab a plant; repeat.
I had overheard one tiny lady say it would take fifteen minutes to unload hundreds of plants, and she was right.
None of us were taking chances. We dropped our tickets and not-so-carefully elbowed each other not-so-gently to get to the good stuff, the one plant we just had to take home in order for this exercise to be a success.
Few made eye contact.
It was war. Of a kind. Sure, I could have taken those little ladies — they were little, sweet — but in the heat of plant battles, don’t look up and keep moving. Drop that ticket, swiftly move to the target, grab quickly, stay low (that’s where the little old ladies have the advantage), and get to the Bowl Lady again as fast as you can run/walk.
This is no game.
Toward the end, even the junk plants, the ones no one wanted, started to look okay again. It wasn’t about quality, just quantity, and nothing plantable would see the inside of a dumpster on this day.
In fifteen minutes, a hot sweaty mess, I dropped my last ticket, grabbed a wee little black plastic pot filled with more mud than mint, and set it next to my haul.
Peony twigs, moneywort¬†clumps, garden phlox, beefsteak tomatoes, larkspur, iris bulbs, other stuff I didn’t recognize but there seemed to be a lot of buzz over, and two pots of mint, that I’ll plant into bigger pots so that it is contained and does not over run all the other gloriously filthy gardening treasure I managed to grab.
Plus, I got in twenty laps of that community center, so my heart got a little exercise.
When I got home I slopped through the muddy mess of a flower bed that I dote over too much and sunk the roots of new neighbors for my old friends. But only some of them. The other half of the haul is going to live with my mother, whose beds are equally muddy and ready.
I wonder if, tomorrow when I deliver them, I’ll need my gardening boots and a shovel?
And I’ve got to be more mindful of community calendars. Plant swaps are a blast.

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in which we dig Canola

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I love canola season.
Other people call it “spring”.
It’s the time of the year when the prairie pops with manicured miles of canola, a yellow floral thing on stalks of green, that flutter and wave magestically until around the end of April when either tornadoes or hail the size of canned beets takes out the beauty and leaves flattened, dilapidated sticks of wither and decay.
It’s the circle of life.
Every year I think, “Huh, I’d love to grow that in my yard. It’s fleeting, it’s lovely, and it’ll die out just in time for the lilies to take over.”
And every year, I forget, until I once again see the waving non-wheat yellow and think, “Crap. Missed it again.”
Well not so this year folks.
I espied a bushel of canola, amok from its field and flagging down the Mighty Taurus with its cries of “Take me home with you!”
Fortunately, I have an obliging and adventurous soul of a son, one unafraid of mocking from friends, should they see him and his nerdy mom tugging at the stubborn roots of a yearly crop along the highway.
Yes, the highway.
Bubs was never in peril, but I felt a few wind gusting flutters ridiculously close to my backside once or twice. Truckers. They need to hit the brakes once in a while.
Here’s the thing I didn’t know until now: Canola, while beautiful en masse, is ugly in the singular. The stems are as big around as a grown man’s thumbs. Angular, like roads on a map, but these are constantly readjusting their angle as they grow so as to reach the sun.
And the flowers? Spindly, nearly anemic when spotted on individual branches.
Oh, and a third thing: heavy. Bubs was nearly overcome by the weight of a clump as he tugged, the earth at last relented, and the canola flew up and onto my boy.
With only two plants, we filled the trunk of the Mighty, and drove them to their new home.
In my head, I was going to keep the seeds for next year, in case I remembered to lay them in the dirt in the spring.
In reality, the bushes had not yet gone to seed, as they were plucked from a ditch before their prime, and all that.
Now they reside in pitiful repose in my front bed. Sure, the stalks are still strong, the soil into which they were plopped is wet and fertile, but I expect transplant rejection at any time.
Until then — what, a day or three? — look, Ma, I’m a canola farmer!

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Food Courts and Baseball

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I’m not a baseball fan.
Yet each year, the Boy Scouts of America travel to the downtown ballpark for a special evening of fun and frivolity. Scouts travel the outfield in a long blue and brown train, waving to their families, loving the freedom of open pasture and the chance to see themselves on big screen tv.
It’s adorable.
Once they’ve circumnavigated the field, Scouts present the flag, lead the pledge, lead by example as the crowd stands and listens to the anthem.
It’s moving.
Eventually, the Scouts make their way to their seats, the ballgame begins, and everyone settles in for the entertainment.
No.
That’s boring.
If my Scout wants to stay and chat with his friends — and being the gregarious sort, he always does — then Mama is digging out the program and turning to the handy dandy food guide called “Where to Eat”.
Whilst the boys chat and wait for pop fouls, I’m perusing the aisles in search of the perfect frank. Not for me, but for the boy, as the longer I can keep him happy with the eating and the chatting, the longer I can wander for delicacies.
First inning: frank for Bubs, bar-b-q for me. Sadly, I know now why the BBQ line was so brief. Sure, the people were sweet and helpful, so friendly, but their shredded pork was dry as the Sahara. Thankfully they make a great sauce, but oddly I really enjoyed their dijon mustard. I know! Dijon mustard on BBQ?! But hey, folks, did I mention the pork was like parchment?
Second inning, digest and peruse the pages for the next perfect outing. (Get it? That’s a baseball reference, seeing as we were at a game and stuff.)
Third inning: enormously over-priced and under-sized Dr Pepper for the boy, hideously over-priced and regular sized Water for me. Gotta hydrate; stay focused.
Fourth inning: Boy is not hungry. (Whaaaaaaat? Fresh outdoors! The smell of popcorn! Hawkers with Cracker Jacks on every bench seat, and my boy didn’t want to partake? Crazy child.) And Mama goes for ice cream. A huge stinkin’ waffle cone of soft serve chocolate icy goodness.
Fifth inning: didn’t I see a margarita stand up there somewhere? I’ll just go check.
Sixth inning: Oh. My. Feeling a little bloated, but still ever hopeful that something will shake down and make room for funnel cake.
Seventh inning: a miracle. People stand as if to leave! They’re standing, rubbing their bellies, chatting with neighbors. It’s over? Well, yay! Let’s look at the score board: The top line says something like: 0 0 0 1 0 1, and the second line says something resembling 0 1 0 0 0 0.
Huh. Binary code tells me…the top line won! Yay!
Good enough for me!
I grab my Scout and off we go, to waddle off the evening’s delicious repast with the also emerging but surprisingly small crowd of folks.
Huh.
Then I remember the whole Stretch at Seven thing. But I don’t tell the boy. Really, it was for his own safety. Salmon are killed every year swimming upstream. I’d hate for us to get stuck in a crush at the turnstile on our way back in to the game. Really. Safety first.
But if I’d seen another stand with brownie fudge sundaes on the way out, I may have reconsidered.

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