Hazards in the garden

As the sun finally peaked from behind the clouds yesterday, I decided the time had come to move my bloom-covered, four-foot tall heirloom tomato plant from the greenhouse into the garden. I was giddy with my newfound passion for gardening.

I had been babying that tomato plant all winter since it emerged as a “volunteer” from one of the pots my son had tossed into my greenhouse last fall. I nicknamed it “BLT” and talked baby talk while feeding it kitchen compost.

This had been going on daily since I discovered it back in February. BLT was the first thing I saw each morning, and I practically kissed him good night each evening.

He was paying me back with phenomenal growth – at least a half inch a day – and no less than nine blooms. I dug a big hole and gingerly set BLT in his permanent home in my front garden. I bathed him in Epson salts and a little cottonseed meal.

He was a beauty to behold. My mind drifted to that first tomato sandwich which couldn’t be far behind. I could FEEL the juice dripping down my arm as I consumed it over the kitchen sink.

As I stepped back to survey my handiwork, I saw a leaf curling at an unnatural angle – a disfigurement that bothered me. I eased up closer to observe what the problem might be. That was my first mistake since I have been showing signs of Hyperopia (far sightedness). It began about the time I turned 50. I can’t see anything closer than my reach, and my arms aren’t very long.

I squinted, trying to bring the blight into focus. Perhaps I should just remove the offensive leaf and pretend it was never there. I pinched it off and cupped it in my fist and went to dispose of it far away from the garden. Suddenly the leaf tickled and felt like a raw oyster in my hand. I opened my fist to discover a smushed caterpillar.

I tried to scream but couldn’t catch my breath. I practically turned a backwards somersault trying to shake it off. People driving by my house thought I was waving and they all smiled and waved back. I got down on all fours and began to wipe the crud on the newly mowed grass, gagging and crying at the same time. My heart was pounding so hard I thought I might pass out.

You must understand that I have an aversion to anything smaller than a breadbox. Lucky Dawg barely made the cut since she only weighs eight pounds. I walk an extra block to cross the street if there is anything moving on the ground in front of me.

I sleep with a can of Bengal beside my bed and I would use it on critter or human without hesitation. I have a dedicated “dust buster” used only to suck up bug carcasses and I get my son to empty it when he stops by.

Now! Knowing that I’d been, well, INTIMATE with this slimy, squirmy thing made me want to have my hand amputated. After two showers I went out back to gag down a cup of green tea (I make myself drink one cup a day but I can’t remember why). As I sat trying to regain my composure, a movement caught my eye.

Something was slithering not two feet from my feet. It was 12 inches long and its little tongue was darting into the air. Was it hissing at me?

“SNAKE!” I yelled so loud and long, my voice could be heard clear out to the Wal-Mart parking lot. I dashed back into the house and locked the doors.

I won’t be going outside for a long time, so BLT and I are probably going to need some counseling.

2 thoughts on “Hazards in the garden

  1. Thanks for the laugh. This sounds just like something that I would do. Enjoyed reading it in Daily Times Leader and again on your website. Reminded me of having to catch a lizard in my daughters room earlier this week, while two worthless cats looked on.

    I look forward each week to your column. And, now that I know you have a website, I will tell my girlfriends so that they can enjoy from afar.

    Hey, I know all those ladies in your photos!!!

  2. Who baits your hooks for you? Worms and gardens are pretty much inseparable, no matter how hard you try to accomplish their divorce. Hyperopia is correctable with eye-glasses but my guess is that eye-glasses along with sensible shoes, little earrings, and gray hair falls into your ” What’s That All About” category. Right?

    You trying to shake the tomato worm off and everyone waving at you reminded me of the most notable thing about the southern town which I call home. It is their semi-rigid greeting ritual. Failure to follow it labels you, at the very least, rude and if you persist in this pattern of neglect, ‘INSULTING’.
    I learned how folks consider it obligatory( The Ritual ) when I was sitting with my neighbors on their front porch and an elderly man about my age walked by in the street (we don’t have sidewalks on our street) and didn’t wave and speak. I’d seen him on several occasions doing the same thing and thought nothing of it. Just an old guy out for a walk.

    “There goes ol’ stuck-up (name deleted).” my neighbors said, along with a few other remarks usually reserved for child-molesters, convicted murderers, and wife-beaters. There weren’t any “Poor things and Bless his Hearts” in there either. My neighbors are really kind people; generous and charitable, they’ll do anything for you but they take this greeting thing seriously.
    Everybody in town does.

    You can’t stop waving at cars you meet until you cross the TomBigbee river to the next county. After that it’s okay to stop waving until you cross it again coming back. If you’re walking, you speak to everyone on foot, shout at those too far away to speak ( I can’t understand half the replies), wave at every car, pickup truck, motorcycle, riding lawnmower and any low flying aircraft.

    If you drive a pickup, as I do , and you don’t wave at every person or vehicle; some night, a herd of pickups loaded with angry people come to your house and burn a cross in your front yard. That might just be a rumor but I’m not going to chance it. I wave!

    This morning, at the Wellness center, I reached up to scratch my ear and at least a half-dozen people waved in response. Horns blow all over town because of drivers who want to wave at you but your not looking in the right direction so they blow their horns to get your attention so they can wave at you. This is usually reserved for people they know, or think they know, or might know someday. Better to err on the side of courtesy. It’s a Hoot! In most towns I’ve lived in, drivers blow their horns to tell you to get out of the way, or to attract your attention so they can make comments about your probable ancestry or mental state, and/or abilities, or wave at you with one finger extended. Way different!

    I’ve been here for almost three years and nobody has blown their horn at me for anything other than a greeting except for that one time I went to sleep at a red light, and they even looked apologetic for disturbing me when they finally tapped their horn. I don’t know how many changes the light made before they decided to do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.