The Rite of Spring Part 1

Posted on March 24, 2014




Life in the Boomer Lane knows very well that the advent of spring usually involves young women developing a sudden, overwhelming need to cast bras aside and older women developing an equally intense need to force all manner of flower and vegetable to sprout in every available bit of green space they own. 

LBL has always been out of both loops. Both she and her breasts have always been happier when protected from the elements. She has always assumed that her disinterest in planting anything in the ground, tending it, watching it grow, and then eating it arose from a genetic imprint created by countless generations of life in Eastern Europe, where her family wasn’t permitted to own land, thereby erasing all farming genes and leading them, instead to professions involving religious study and starvation.

Yet she knows this to be untrue.  Her cousin, a master gardener, wallows in the growing of flowers. Jewish friends of hers, also master gardeners, grow all manner of flowers and produce. Her offspring, products of a gene pool that divide equally between the maternal shtetl-dwellers and the paternal soil and sunshine-loving, DAR-eligible, WASP stock, love to plant. Her older son tends his garden with the reverence he used to reserve for his Nintendo Playstation. He lives in Seattle and sends photos of lush vegetables, followed by photos of the amazing food he has prepared with them. Her younger son and his fiance start each day with a routine that includes watering, weeding, and lovingly staring at and talking to their happy brood of herbs, squash, peppers, whatever. Her soon-to-be daughter-in-law is the Mother Earth of Herbs. She’s never met a herb she doesn’t like and she’s never met a herb she can’t immediately toss into something. Even LBL’s daughter, who lived in London for five years and now lives in Brooklyn,  manages to grow things in pots. Give her and her husband a third floor walk-up and a balcony and they will create a fully functioning vegetable farm in pots and hanging baskets.

You get the idea, here. LBL was starting to feel a little intimidated. She had always assumed that when she reached a certain age, she would wake up one morning with a burning desire to take a Master Gardeners Class (Ninja for Older Women) and to fill the house with seeds, gloves, hats, implements with curved metal claws, and catalogues that sell entire lines of rubber clothing.

Now Husband is no help.  His own genetic imprint does not involve cavorting with the soil and, as an adult, he lived in New York and in DC, in high-rise building that protected him from growing things. When LBL met him, he was committed to supporting the produce departments of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

But LBL couldn’t shake the growing feeling of being inferior. She was determined to give vegetable gardening a try. Then she announced to Now Husband, “We are going to grow things.” Now Husband countered with “I’m already growing nose and ear hair. I don’t have time for anything else.”

LBL ignored him. Surely there must be a way to do what everyone else seemed to do so easily. Then she remembered that she doesn’t ride a bike, and is forced to watch as the rest of the world pedals happily by.

She started by turning over all the photos of the Russian and Polish ancestors who were usually staring her down from the dining room walls. Better they shouldn’t be watching this.