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Raising My (Gardening) Hat to Ground Huggers

June 16, 2011

Paul's Potato Patch

I’m a wall hugger. I’ve always been in awe of buildings that
were older than the few years America has been in existence. I remember sitting  in a village square in Arraiolos, Portugal, eating creamy custard tarts with my  daughter Cashley and our friends Valerie and Ralph, and noticing a beautiful
stone archway at the edge of the square. I walked over and read the plaque:  it was built in 947 AD — 1,000 years before I was born! ONE THOUSAND YEARS! That  alone was worth a hug, and as I wrapped my arms around the archway I trembled,
knowing how much history had passed through that doorway.

But I divert. Prince Philip said in a recent BBC interview celebrating  his 90th birthday that he was not a “bunny hugger.” I rather doubt  that wild rabbits hop the fields of the many castles where he resides, and if  they do, it isn’t long before they end up as Sunday dinner. I like bunnies, and  am amused at the daily entertainment they provide when I look out the windows
and see all the generations hopping merrily through our fields. There were four
of them in my driveway when I looked out the window, lined up as in morning
assembly. The British are known for their love of the land, so I am now dubbing
them “ground huggers.” I guess we all have to have something to hug.

I’ve lived in a lot of places and nowhere have I seen such a
riot of garden television programs, garden centers, garden books, plants,
flowers, trees, blossoms – the British love their gardens and I know they’re
all born with green thumbs. Pity the ones who aren’t because they’ll be found
out and shipped out of this lovely island.

I’m not British so I can boast of not having a green thumb
without fear of extradition. But my husband, Paul, is enthralled by gardens. (He’s Welsh, therefore British.)  Not that he has much to do with them when it comes to maintenance, but sticking
a seed or plant into the earth and watching it sprout amazes him. It amazes me
too because without so much as a hug, his earth parts and little leaves make
their entrance. Like the potato.

Paul bought a potato bag. That’s all it was. A plastic bag
with reinforced threads running through it and little holes at the bottom for
drainage. No dirt. No potato. No nothing. Just a bag. Fortunately we had some
compost in the pig sty (that’s another story) and he poured it into the bag,
grabbed a potato from the kitchen counter, stuck it in, covered it, and waited.
Michael, the groundskeeper who knows everything about gardens (he IS British
after all and is in no fear of having to pack his bags) suggested he add a
friend potato to the bag so the potato wouldn’t be lonely. There went dinner.

We waited. Paul walked out to the terrace every morning to
check on his potato bag, but no sign of life was threading its way through the
dirt. I moved it into a sunnier area and watered the little guys when we had
our two days of dry summer. And we waited some more. Until the glorious day arrived
when a sprout appeared! Tiny, almost invisible, its little green head had popped
through the soil and waved to us. (It might have been the wind blowing it
around, but we prefer to think it waved.) The next day, some friends joined
him. And the next, and the next, and the next! A little village of green leaves
had moved in and our potato crop was on its way!

In a country where the BBC devotes an hour of prime time
television to the apple, and where my yoga teacher, Audrey, exclaims with glee
that her queen bee has laid eggs, we watch in awe as Paul’s green thumb bares
its British-ness and joins the millions of others all around us. I guess he
doesn’t need to pack his bag and hop a ship in Plymouth. The pilgrims did it
hundreds of years ago. They must have been the black thumb brigade because they had to
rely on the Indians to show them how to plant, sow, reap and harvest. Hail Britannia
— and all the ground huggers who live here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2011 1:08 pm

    A lovely read, well done for lightening my day!!

  2. June 17, 2011 8:08 pm

    great post, I really liked the imagery of the little waving leaves!

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