My babies are all grown up….They live 2000 miles away. And I have no grand-kids.
I’m stuck somewhere between Menopause and Grandma-hood—a stage when a woman’s maternal instincts run amok. The mothering hormones just don’t know what to do with themselves.
Wanna-be-Mamas are on the loose, folks, and we’re a mess….Not dangerous, really—but not quite sane. We adopt the neighbor’s kids. The paperboy. Dogs. Kittens. Dying geraniums. We rescue anything that whimpers or looks sad.
Lately, I’ve been rescuing little green orphans that the world has neglected. Little seedlings and sproutlings…Plants of every kind. At a local K-mart, I find myself drowning the wilted sproutlings on a bargain rack.
Swooosh…! from a nearby watering-hose. And that’s that!
When the garden-clerks return from lunch break, they find their Garden Center in drippy disarray. They see wet shoeprints leading out the door, but they never catch the culprit.
They are persnickety people. Exactamonious and rigid. And not at all compassionate.
One day, I said to the hardened clerks in the Garden Center: “Look at these wilting veggies! Give me a better discount and I’ll take them to live in my country garden.”
But no…Oh no. They wouldn’t hear of it. No discounts for Wanna-be’s with over-active hormones…No sir, ma’am! Pay a pretty price for those bedraggled seedlings, or forget it!
Poor orphans. They appealed to me from their parched and crusty racks. Little zucchinis and crooknecks and cucumber plants. So weak and thirsty they could hardly lift their wilting arms…drooping lower and lower in their plastic containers.
It was more than I could bear. All right, I says to myself. All right. I will do something about this. I went home and told my husband about the orphans.
Michael looked dubious—but just a tad interested, too. My man has a green thumb, and he can bring anything back to life. His garden soil is a special concoction—-the richest in the county—maybe even the State. “Tell me, darling…” he said. “What kind of veggies are they?”
“Oh—all kinds,” I said. “Parsley and peppers. Little herbs and zukes and crooknecks and cukes—-“
“We’ll check them out,” Michael said. “…Next time we’re in town.”
Well. By the time we got to town, the veggies weren’t even there. They had all disappeared.
“We’ve waited too long!” I said. “They’ve killed the babies!”
But my husband didn’t bat an eye. He drove around to the back of the store, and there they were. All those wilted orphans sitting by the dumpster, waiting for the garbage truck.
Needless to say, the kids were glad to see us.
We quickly scooped them up and put them in our trunk. Dozens and dozens of them…. then we high-tailed it out of there. It was the greatest veggie heist in Humboldt County. My husband called it a Rescue Mission. Special OP’s….
The orphans drank our good well-water and sank their roots into our rich mulchy soil. They began to grow. And grow and grow. Suddenly our little zukes and cukes and crooknecks had become monsters.
Oh…but that’s not half the story. Speaking of monsters—let me tell you about the other orphan babies in our nursery….the flower bulbs.
This spring I began finding bulbs everywhere. By the roadside. In abandoned lots. The biggest ones were dumped near the river bar. Big hunkin’ flower bulbs that someone had abandoned. Purposely.
I don’t know what kind they were, but it broke my heart to see the orphans struggling to survive on the rocky river bar. They tried so hard to be brave…poking their green arms up through the debris that someone had piled on top of them.
I couldn’t deny them.
I scooped them up by the hundreds and took them home—hidden away in the trunk of my car. My husband knew nothing of the orphans tucked away in the back…He only saw the flower bulbs that I’d left sitting on my front seat.
He was mildly interested. “They’re big,” he said. “Big as onions. They must be aggressive rascals, or they wouldn’t be dumped by the river. Are there any more Onion-Heads there?”
“Oh yes,” I said. “Hundreds!”
“Hmmm. Let’s go get a few.”
That’s what I was hoping he’d say. Happily, I climbed aboard his big truck. We bounced and jolted our way to the rocky river bar where the piles of Onion-Heads lay.
“Look at them all….!” I said. “We’ve got to rescue them!”
And rescue them we did. There must’ve been almost a thousand of them huddled there on the river-bar. We began piling them into the truck bed. Higher and higher.
“I’m sure we have enough,” Michael said.
“Oh, but there’s another pile over there. Poor babies. Look at them.”
Michael sighed. He scooped up another hundred or so. The truck fairly sagged. “That’s enough!” Michael said with finality. I knew better than to argue.
We took them home to join the hundreds of other orphan bulbs…the ones hidden away in my car trunk. My husband never knew about those other stowaways.
But that night he had a terrible dream. A nightmare really…one of those dreadful things that never end.
In the morning Michael awakened, disgruntled. “All night long, we loaded up these Onion-Heads,” he said. “Trailer-loads of them. We drove down the road, and the bulbs fell out all over the place. People laughed at us. It was horrible. The dream went on and on….”
I comforted him as best I could.
I never did tell him about all the Onion-Heads hiding in my trunk. It would’ve been overwhelming. Somehow, I managed to smuggle those orphans in with the others. There were already so many kids in our orphanage, a few hundred more made little difference.
We’ve spent the last several weeks planting bulbs. Digging hundreds of holes and dropping the bulbs into the dirt…gently at first, with loving care. Then with more vigor as time goes by. Hour after hour. Day after day. We’re running out of places to put them.
It’s unending. I work on them while my husband’s gone. At night, he’ll come home and say: “Did you get all the kids tucked into bed?”
I shake my head….too tired to speak.
Sorry to say, folks…it’s still not over. There are piles of Onion-Heads sprouting everywhere. They don’t even wait to be put into bed. They grow wherever they’ve landed. Our orphanage is beyond absurd…It’s a monstrosity. We’re weary of the children….but they won’t go away.
They just won’t.
I will spend my working, I’m sure. Digging holes…warily watching my children grow.
I don’t even know what kind they are. They’re getting big and lanky and worrisome. Like puppies with big feet—they’re going to be huge. Soon, they’ll take over the yard…the driveway…the veggie garden. I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know….But I’ll try to think of something.
Hmmm…..No, I just couldn’t.
Not the river-bar, folks.
We never mention the river-bar. Not around here.