I have packed my life with everything, almost everything, that I wanted to do. But, I didn’t plant that patio container garden nor that front yard garden of my brick row home in Cramer Hill.
I had bought packets of cosmos, marigold, zinnias and daisy seeds, but the seeds never left the packets. Why? Was I too tired this spring? That last spring of teaching in Camden? That last year of sweetest ESL students? I was exhausted, I think. I wasn’t deprived of flowers in school that year, though. It was the year of roses for me from students–red roses that live in my computer photos and in my garden of poignant memories.
But, on this mildly cold November day, I want to plant a flower garden and to have sunflowers, marigolds and daisies to pop up in a few months. That’s not going to happen. Not in Camden, New Jersey. Winter will be here before we know it.
Spring will follow and I can plant my garden, but, in the meanwhile, I feel curiously bereft. I want to plant seeds today and I want flowers.
The one year that I had a backyard garden made me happy. The golden sunflowers in the car-sized patch of soil bloomed like crazy. The cosmos, the marigolds and the morning glory vines fought for space, but they were so darn cheerful about it. I even had a birdbath where sparrows took a splash or two.
I loved to pull into my asphalt parking area, big enough for one car, and to see on my left, goldfinches, flitting around the sunflowers. (I parked in back, a newer car, my husband in the front of the house, an older car.) I’d never seen goldfinches before I had the sunflowers. They delighted me, in spite of the fact that they stole the seeds from the flowers.
It was the first time that I’d had a chance to plant out back for fourteen years. That bit of yard had belonged to our dog, Cookie. When she died, I consoled myself with the garden.
Then, one of the clichés about Camden came true. My husband found marks on his car that someone was trying to steal it. The grass, the sunflowers, the birdbath and the goldfinches disappeared. My husband’s car parked next to mine. I was a little angry and bitter. I didn’t plant anything for the patio or the small front lawn.
I vow that I will flower up next spring. At least, hanging baskets of petunias. At least, pots of zinnias. For sure, the morning glories. Roses are more difficult to cultivate, but hey, I have the photos of the roses from my former third-graders and those memories of their joy to honor their old ESL teacher. Still good. A memory of happy times is quite like the best garden ever.
Written by Marguerite Ferra