Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day by Margaret Ullrich


     Isn't it great.  Mother Nature has finally realized it's Spring!

     Parents in the wild weren't confused by the crazy weather we've been having.  We live in a cul de sac near farmers' fields in the north end of Winnipeg.  Geese and ducks have been making nests and babies in our local ponds.  We've been watching bush bunnies chase each other like race horses at the track.  Our kitchen has a picture window facing our garage, where we have a grapevine growing up a trellis, then continuing over wires to the window to give us some shade.  
  
     On top of the trellis, under the garage's eaves, two robins recently set up housekeeping.  Rain or shine, they knew it was time to have babies.  And, they did.  While we ate, we watched them take turns keeping the eggs warm.  A few weeks ago we saw the babies' wide open mouths over the edge of the nest.  When I went out to hang laundry, I heard the birds chirping overhead.  
     
     When you live in the 'burbs, it's almost the law to have a garden.  You know it.  Your neighbours know it.  And every store in town knows it.  So, marketing folks, ever eager to make a buck on anything - especially guilt - have hooked Mother's Day to Gardening.  In a way, it's a natural.  

     Everyone can remember proudly giving Mom a bouquet of freshly picked weeds.  Okay.  It's the thought that counts.  And, as a gift, the weeds weren't bad.  Mom could smile, plunk them into anything from a vase to an empty coffee tin, set them anywhere and everybody was happy.  Mom could ignore them until they flopped over.  Nobody cared when Mom tossed them out.  Hey, they were free weeds. 
  
     The problem is, kids grow up.  They learn how to read.  They read the flyers.  They get some cash.  They get suckered.

     One large chain, whose buyers have some serious size issues, recently came out with a lawn and garden flyer.  They proudly announced, We make gardening REALLY EASY!  Uh, huh.  By this they meant they'd packed to overflowing huge planters with annuals, about which they said, and I quote, It's like adding another room to your house.

     Yippee!  Picture it.  Lugging around a kitchen chair, then climbing it to hang 'another room' from a hook you can barely see because the darn heavy thing has to be hung high enough so no one will walk into it and knock himself out cold.  Having to unhook 'the room' which is hanging a few feet above your head so you can water it.  Regularly.  Every couple of days.  Hey, what did you expect?  They're honking big flowers.  They're thirstier than sailors on shore leave.  It was your lousy gift, so there you are, hoisting something that weighs as much as a toddler over your head.  Oh, and you had just watered it.  Dirty water is running down your arm.  Happy Mother's Day.   

     Okay.  The kids meant well.  You can't return them - the kids or the flowers.  Let's grab a cold one, sit down and think this through.  

     They're just flowers in a pot.  You buy annuals in a box.  What do you do with the annuals?  Just separate them and plant them where you please.  Hose them down every so often.  No climbing or weight lifting required. 

     Alrighty then.  Upend that oversized pot and do likewise to those overpacked petunias.  They'll be grateful for the breathing room.  Hey, would you like to spend a scorching Manitoba summer crammed six to a bed?  Neither do flowers.  

     But, that leaves you with an empty pot.  And even though the kids barely look you in the eye, there's still a chance they'd notice that the pot - their gift - is now empty.  No problem.  Can you say Dollar Store?  Just waltz in and buy any flowers you like.  Think you have to get the same flowers?  Get real.  How much do you notice the uniqueness of each potato in a twenty pound sack?  The kids bought those flowers by the basket, 25 bucks each, two for 40.  They shopped with friends and had a few bucks left for snacks.  All they noticed was that the baskets were heavy.  

     Get whatever you like.  Um... on second thought, try to stay with the season.  I have a friend who loves Christmas.  She packed her pot with flaming red poinsettias.  Even her kids thought there was something odd about their Mom's pot.  She just smiled, hugged them and gave them a cookie.  A store bought cookie.  It worked.  

     While you're at it, get some fake flowers for the yard, especially for those dark, hard to grow areas and window boxes.  I got a lovely assortment of blue, white and orange flowers for our yard.  Mama Robin ignored me as I placed some flowers in a large pot under our chokecherry.  She chirped as I inserted some into my kitchen window's flower box.  

     Then I tried to hook a few onto the trellis under her nest.  Mama Robin flew onto our neighbour's roof, to watch me beautifying her neighbourhood.  Then she started screeching like a banshee.  I glanced up just in time to see her act like a kamikazi pilot, talons aimed straight at me.  I ducked and ran.  The grapevine can stay flowerless until her kids have flown the nest. 
            
     Ah, the circle of life!  Ah, Nature!  Ah, crap!

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