My Black Thumb

 With Spring coming on, I thought this would be the perfect piece to welcome her.

In the long, long time ago, I thought it would be nice to grow some flowers. So I chucked down to the local nursery and asked what would be a good flower to plant. I was overwhelmed with suggestions from that crew. It was like going out to dinner with a bunch of friends. Eight to be exact and they’re all saying, “You gotta try this. And this. And this.”

I mean the staff at the nursery went on and on about annuals and perennials. They suggested hibiscus, azaleas, roses, zinneas, periwinkles, begonias, rain lilies, magnolias, camelias and  all the kinds of flowers. They just knew they’d spiff up my lawn.

Little did they know that my lawn eats cats and dogs for breakfast. I have seen the neighborhood cat running forty miles an hour just to get away from the darn thing. But I didn’t want to disappoint them. So I didn’t share anything about the villain.

I didn’t plan to plant the flowers anywhere near the lawn. I bought several earth boxes and took some of the flowers with interesting sounding names. Begonia sounded Irish, so I took the potential begonia along with a periwinkle and azaleas. The staff threw in an hibiscus for free and I was a happy camper.

The nursery gave me instructions on how to plant, nurse and grow these little cuties into big adult flowers. The instructions came in a roll as long as a roll of toilet paper. I also bought some accessories like a little shovel to dig a hole in the dirt.

It cost me a big chunk of change but it was worth it. I mean, when I left that place, I was a ready teddy. And I was feeling good about myself. I was ready to beat that global warming single-handed and with one hand tied behind my back.

I got home and set the earth box out on my porch. I put it in a spot my lawn couldn’t see just in case. I got out my tiny shovel and dug holes in the dirt and planted my flowers. I watered them nice-like. Then I went back in my house, got myself a beer and settled into my nice comfy chair. You wouldn’t believe the smile I had on my face. I had done a good day’s work and I couldn’t have been happier.

Well, over the next few weeks, I watered them flowers just like the instructions in Chapter 32 of my roll said. I did not feed them the cheap plant food. I gave them the Good Stuff. Day after day, I did this for about two weeks.

Then one night I woke up to the weirdest sounds. It sounded like the noise was coming from the earth box. I ran out to the flowers and all of them were choking. They were having trouble breathing. Several of them had gone to the Big Flower Box in the Sky. One of the periwinkles choked out, “Water, water, water.”

I ran and filled the watering can. I got to the box. The periwinkle said, “Not tap water. Bottled wa–” and he died. It was the end of my flower-planting career. I asked my neighbor what had happened. He said, “So you thought you had a Green Thumb. Well, guess what. You and I both have black thumbs. The best thing you can do is go down to that nursery. Start dating the first single woman you meet there. Then marry her. That way you’ll have a Green Thumb in the family.”

And that’s exactly what I did. She has a way with flowers. And my lawn loves her too. Her name is Petunia Tree.


Near 500 words: Picnic

I’ve heard that, when all is said and done, the insects win. For anyone who has done a picnic, we know how true that can be.

Our best girl packs up a basketful of the best goodies. You know the goodies I am talking about. Those sandwiches she makes that are out of this world. That chocolate cake that melts in the mouth. That bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion. It’s like Omar Khayyam said, “Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou Beside me…” Smart fellow, that Omar.

You spread the red and white checkered picnic cloth. She pulls out the paper plates and napkins, then sets out the sandwiches all cut into squares. Yummy. You uncork the wine. Give it a good sniff. Pour out an itsy bitsy amount into a plastic cup just for a taste. You take a drink and run the wine around in your mouth. Then you nod your head that the wine is perfect. You pour her a cup, then yourself. Then the two of you lift your cups for a toast to a perfect day and a perfect picnic.

You are out in nature and it is an absolutely gorgeous day. Not too warm and not too cool. The weather is cooperating like the meteorologist promised.

You fold your legs under your bottom, zen Buddhist style. As you sit beside the picnic spread, the two of you are enjoying the food, the company, the setting. From time to time, one of you tells a joke. You talk about the good times and the bad times and the times you’re not sure you want to share. But you do. Soon you’ve finished off the sandwiches. And a good bit of the wine. There’s only the chocolate cake left. That delicious, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake.

Both of you are a little giggly from the wine. You decide, maybe before the cake some, exercise would be a good thing. You brought a ball, so the two of you play catch for a half hour or so. Now you’re ready for that cake.

You look at the picnic spread. The cake is not there.

“Who stole the cake?” you yell.

You’re both frantic. That cake is the piece de resistance for a perfect day and now it’s gone. Then, in the distance, you see it. The cake. A bandit gang of ants are marching the cake away. And they are singing The Ants’ Battle Hymn, “When the ants go marching in.”

ants, ants, ants
they march, they eat,
they do their ant thing

which is
to march, to eat,
to do their ant thing

haiku for the day: nature

Nature at its best is balance. For every winter, there is a summer. For every autumn, there is a spring. For every night, there is a day. For every evening, there is a morning. For every valley, there is a mountain. For every sea, there is a shore. And for every weed, there is a flower.

a forecast of rain
and a cloudy day outside
the sun shares the stage

Just a note, the storm has passed

I want to thank all of you who are thinking and praying for us. The eye of Irma came through last night just west of us. It is now north almost out of Florida. When it came through, it was loud. It was noisy and downright scary. Sounded like some kind of monster. Guess it was showing off. There are still gusts. None of us will forget this one for a long time.

Unlike so many, I was fortunate that damage to my property was minimal. Unlike so many near us we didn’t lose power. Now the clean-up begins.

As bad as it was, it could have been a lot worse. If anything, Harvey, Irma, the earthquake in Mexico and the fires on the West Coast are reminders of how little control we have over our circumstances. And they are also reminders how much we need each other. That community is important. These events leave us stunned. So stop and take a moment to be thankful for the blessings we all have. Most of all, we have our lives, our families and our friends. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

Once again, thank y’all.