You will know me as my mother’s daughter because I inherited her voice, her stubborn need to do things on my own, and her comically long second toe that reminds me every summer how much I hate open-toe shoe season. There are of course some traits I did not inherit from her, like her good cheekbones and lovely singing voice. The gene that skipped me that hurts the most however is her botany prowess. When I’m not complaining about my toe that looks like a transplanted index finger, I’m lamenting about my garden and how it doesn’t look at all like hers.
We used to tease my mom about how she could grow anything, anywhere. Drop a cigarette butt? DuMaurier could build a factory in our back yard. Spill some coffee? A kind farmer and his donkey would be harvesting beans on the hillside in a month. Eat an avocado and toss the pit into the compost? Tom Selleck just moved us to his California farm and became our dad. She is that good. Amazing, actually.
Apart from growing, she is also good at what she will call “propagating”. It’s what the court system refers to as stealing, but it’s just semantics at that point.
At public gardens and plant conservatories, she will remove seed heads from whatever flora is on display with such stealth that British Intelligence agencies have been scouting her. She is however a contradiction of character at this point. As a staunch believer in God and in doing the right thing, she also sees no issue with her acquisition of seeds. Perhaps she is doing God’s work…who are they to judge, other than Conservation Officers and security guards.
When she is not appropriating seeds, she is also known for her basement grow-op.
Every Spring, should heat seeking law enforcement helicopters be flying by, they would be shocked at the glow her house would show on their display. Banks of fluorescent grow lights line her basement, bursting with tray upon tray of seedlings and starter plants for her summer garden. The police don’t know this though. All they would see was a hot spot and a 76 year old choir member who distributes baggies of dried green herbs to all her friends.
It’s oregano, officer. I swear.
I’m not trying to out my dear mom here as El Chappo or anything. I’m probably just a little envious of her skills with greenery. Maybe I should just call it even though, because in my younger days I was pretty good with a bag of oregano myself.