If I'd been in the Garden of Eden instead of Eve, we still would have been kicked out, but not because I ate of the fruit of the Tree. It would have been because I killed every plant and flower there.
The truth is, and I hesitate to state this in public with such brutal honesty, but there's no way around it: I hate gardening. And it hurts to say this, because it makes me deny so much of my family, um, roots.
I come from a long line of plant-lovers. My grandmother had the patience to cultivate African violets on her kitchen windowsill. She and my grandfather lived in an apartment near Damen and Peterson; there was no yard in sight. Still, she had pots of delicate African violets on her window sill, and we grew up hearing about how temperamental they were. Are they? I don't have the faintest idea.
My mother had a backyard, and filled it with flowers. She knew all their names, too, and I don't mean names like George and Debbie. The entire width of our backyard was lined with lilac bushes.Truth to tell, lilacs do hold a special place in my heart and in my nose. Lilacs smell like my childhood. Lilacs are spring, when my birthday is. And, when your birthday is four days before tax time ends, and your dad is an accountant, and it's almost always Passover….well, being able to count on the lilacs blooming in honor of your birthday is important.
But then there were the roses. All season long (and don't ask me what rose season is…I think it's summer, right?) we talked about the roses. She knew their names, too…varieties, I mean. Either we were rushing out to cover them, hurting our fingers on them, or having to be careful playing on the back yard patio because of them. But Mom loved her roses. And she also had her annuals. Or are they perennials? Frankly, they both mean "every year," so I never did get them straight. Anyway, whichever they are, I know not to plant them till after Mother's Day. I may not plant them at all, but if I were going to, it sure as hell wouldn't be until after Mother's Day.
My sisters? My older sister was a landscaper before she became a rabbi. She lived on a farm in Vermont then, and actually grows flowers from seeds, not flats. Her backyard, the couple of acres that weren't vertical, that is, have terraces of flowers, all designed according to when they bloom and what color they are. It's breathtaking….and I mean that in several ways. Now she lives "in town" part of the week, and her house there has (of course) a front yard full of flowers, flowers along the side of the house, and I can't remember what's in the back, but I'm sure it's blooming, too. Mind you, this is in Vermont, where the growing season is about five minutes.
My younger sister lives in the city—always has. First Chicago, now Haifa. If she had three square feet of dirt somewhere in the backyard, she planted it. Herbs and veggies, too. She once planted between a shed and a fence, just so she could get her hands in the dirt. I really don't understand this.
Dirt in my fingers? It's dirt, it's not pleasant. Being outside, kneeling on the ground? It's either too cold or blistering hot, buggy, sweaty. If it's that nice out, I'd rather sit with a book. If it's not that nice out, I'd rather be inside….duh. And what's with weeds? It's like laundry—just when you get it done, you have to start all over again. I may not like laundry all that much, but at least when it's clean, you can go out in public. After gardening, you're barely fit to stumble to the shower.
I like seeing beautiful gardens around the neighborhood, and I would never be without my Botanic Gardens pass. That place really is heaven on Earth. I go there for no reason, for every reason, and breathe it in with gratitude and appreciation. You go, folks, keep planting those gorgeous gardens, and I will bow to your patience, care, and vision. I'm grateful for your passion, even if I don't share it. And if I ever do get back to the Garden, I'll be sure to leave the tending to someone else. That would be, well, heavenly!