Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pansy time

Last weekend, we were at our local liquor story to stock up on wine, and we noticed that there were pansies and violets in the planter by the door. The sales clerk, a buxom, amiable woman who would look right at home serving pints in an old-fashioned pub, said she planted them and told us we could get some of our own at Wagner's, a Minneapolis greenhouse that grows their own flowers.

So on Monday, I headed over to 60th and Penn, just a few miles west of us, and bought two flats of pansies. Then my son, Martin, and I headed out to Mom's house to fill the two little planters in front before the Realtors' open house scheduled for Tuesday. Mom had finally got through the ordeal of painting and floor refinishing (a few weeks during which she barely had a place to sit) and her Realtor had listed the place at last on Monday.

The house has pinkish siding and a brick red door, so I selected pansies that picked up on these colors. Then I grabbed a bunch of dogwood twigs from my winter outdoor arrangement (I had long since tossed the evergreen bows from that onto the compost), and put them in the pots with the pansies to give the whole arrangement some height. It looked pretty good, and Mom liked it too, and then she said we have to go, someone's coming to look at the house in about ten minutes.

Mom called on Wednesday to tell me that she sold the house! In fact, she had two offers, and selected the one from the family with three children (the other couple had no kids), even though it meant a little less money for her because they requested help with closing costs. But she so liked the idea of providing a home to a family, and she told me that the oldest child was 8, the same age as my big sister (our oldest) when they moved into the house in 1960, and the younger two, twins, were 3, the same age that I was at that time (I'm the baby). So I guess it just felt to her that it was meant to be.

I planted some of the remaining pansies in my pot on the front steps, pictured here, along with the corkscrew willow branches I've had for about a year now, and I added a dangly ornament (you can see the star at the bottom of it here, I'll try to get a better picture this afternoon when the sun is shining on it). I had selected the plants with the most open blossoms for Mom's pots, so these aren't as colorful just yet, but I'm sure they'll be blooming like crazy in no time. They're getting lots of sunshine, and I mixed some granulated organic fertilizer in with the soil when I planted them.

It felt so nice to get out in the garden and do a little cleaning up and planting yesterday. I am deliberately doing just a little at a time because I don't want to wake up with a painfully stiff knee and an aching back in the morning! But it's only the middle of April, so I have lots of time, right?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mom's Stuff, Part 2: A Roving Rooster

At one of our visits to Mom's house to help with packing and sorting for her upcoming move from a four-bedroom suburban rambler to a two-bedroom apartment, we came home with a rooster.

Not a rooster like the one that patroled a friend's hobby farm where my daughter, Nora, sometimes used to farm-sit when the owners went out of town. That rooster was aggressive and downright scary -- and loud. Nora said that it only took him three days to figure out where she was sleeping and then position himself outside her window each morning to let her know loud and clear just exactly when the sun's rays first peeked over the horizon.

My mother's rooster is made of resin and had quietly occupied a corner of her dining room since 2003, when it had come home with her after one of her daily mall-walking escapades. It was shortly after Dad died (on December 13, 2002) and she had begun walking about three miles a day, indoors at Har Mar Mall in Roseville. She would walk past a garden store that had the rooster on display, and the colorful fellow had become a welcome and cheery sight on those daily walks.

Then one day it wasn't there, and she missed it. So when the store got another one in stock, she immediately bought it and brought it home. It's the sort of thing Dad would have gotten a kick out of, and probably on some level it made her feel a little connection to him.

And that may be why, when she said she was ready to part with the rooster, I claimed it. Neither of my brothers showed the slightest interest in it, and they may not have known how Mom came by it. To me, it's not only a colorful and whimsical garden ornament, something to jazz up our yard's feng shui with a shot of rooster energy, it's also a token of my parents' playful side; something that brought my mother a bit of cheer at a sad time, and a reminder of my father's mischievous nature.

It made me think of the time Dad bought my mother a stuffed animal, and soon after, she kept finding it in unexpected places around the house, posed in odd postures. Soon after the rooster came home with us, my husband started to notice that it showed up in different spots in the backyard each day when he came home from work.

Then I began to find it in new places when I would look out the kitchen window shortly after Hubby got on his bicycle and headed off to work. Our teenage son observed all this with his usual amused detachment. Or so it seemed. Then one day when my husband was still at work and I came back from a bike ride, I opened the garage door to find it inside the garage.

And so it continues to rove about the backyard, and seems to be enjoying its new habitat, spreading its animal energy wherever it goes; and maybe, just a little, channeling my father's playful spirit in the process.