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What Grows in Your Garden?

by chris miskec-rhymes-with-whiskey 9 months ago in humor

Adventures in gardening in the inner city

Wife & daughter

The backyard gate swung open. Helen’s first gaze into our inner-city oasis was met with palpable awe at the sight of our new fixture. “When you said it was unique, you weren’t kidding.”

“The sculptor let us know it was quite challenging recreating this iconic piece for our backyard, but really rewarding. The end product does not match in grandness the ‘how’ we were able to commission the work. Sit down, relax, and enjoy the sunshine. If you need a refill, just let me know!”

Last winter, the obsession with buying bulbs paid off when three boxes arrived just as the hummingbirds returned to the feeders. The shipments from Dutch Tubers were obviously packed with care and impeccable instructions, insisting I create perfect pockets in the yard for the plant to fill the ground over the course of 6-8 weeks, with proper sunshine and moisture.

We first had to finish off the plan so meticulously noted in our little black book for gardening, by making the trek to the Glory Vine Greenhouse. We chose the seedling plants with just the right size and number of leaves, the herbs with aromas that were not too strong and not on their last whiff of goodness, along with packets we knew were guaranteed to produce at least one carrot, three onions and pint-sized cucumbers, or at least had in the recent past.

May in Minnesota is tricky. One day, the sun is so abundant our melanin depleted skin can turn from eggshell to flaming red as we walk to the mailbox. Then overnight, our heater turns on and we risk sustaining a fracture to scrap off the ½ inch of ice on our windshield.

Regardless, living in Zone 4b of the planting guide, we are an optimistic bunch of foolhardy self-proclaimed sustainers who pride ourselves in the ability to concoct meals from what we “find in our backyard”, that is not poisonous or too spicy.

For three straight days, the nighttime lows did not dip below the freezing limbo line and we planned to till the plots designed in our little black gardening book from dawn to dusk. The seed packets were placed on the ground, arranged to give the best chance of not becoming sustenance for the bunnies who inhabit the limits of an inner city. The seedling plants were then laid out to ensure aesthetically pleasing sight lines while keeping their distance for best sun and root bearing.

We grabbed the gloves, the hoes, the trowel, the bulb transplanter, the hand rake, and set to prepping. Music rang out as we dressed appropriately to keep the skin from needing aloe vera baths, and the little black book of gardening was fluttering in the wind, beckoning our dreams to become reality.

The seeds were planted with care, 1-2” in depth, in proper rows, with appropriate quarantines of space so as not to hamper the growth of each other.

The transplanter drill was inserted, and the ground was broken. Bulbs were dropped with care, root down. We were 8 in when the noise from the transplanter changed tone. A shovel was inserted and out came an aspirin bottle, the kind that holds 81 mg tablets, 300 in number. Bottle had expired in 2009, two years prior to us inhabiting our home.

Discovering the bottle brought back treasure hunts from my youth, when anything unexpectedly found was a treasure and almost certain to foster further imaginative explorations. But when you find a plastic bottle that once held generic aspirin, new questions enter your differential:

Was this from the previous owner? Or did one of the neighbors sling it into the yard? Did I drop it during the move?

With the lowest level of anticipation, the non-childproof cap was opened.

The nail was painted a dull pink. The skin was remarkably well preserved. The amputation appeared atraumatic, but it was definitely an amputation.

Oddly, no scent wafted up to invade my nostrils. When I tilted the bottle to look deeper, the glint of light from below was undeniable.

“Jessica! Come here now!” I called to my wife. Used to my dramatic tones when something went wrong or I was minutes away from a preventable injury, she casually strode to my side.

As she took off her gloves, I said “you may want to keep them on”. She will not watch the videos I share with my brother. The videos in which people are gravely injured in sporting events, car wrecks or moments of ill decisions. I knew this treasure would not be comfortable to her roller coaster autonomic nervous system.

Keeping eye contact, I handed her the bottle. “Aspirin? Why are you giving me a dirty bottle of aspirin?”

“Look inside…”

“Is this a FINGER?!? Whose finger is it?!? Why do you have a finger in an aspirin bottle?!”

My wife has asked me a lot of questions during our marriage she never thought she would ask her spouse, but questioning a finger in an aspirin bottle was a line of questioning I’m certain had been undertaken by a select few married couples.

I gently tilted the bottle. The finger slid out, leaving a few skin cells on the rim. The proximal knuckle was intact. The ring was solidly in place. The ring wasn’t gold.

We knew of the family that lived in our home prior to us. In their 70’s, she morbidly obese, multiple health issues. He did all he could to keep her alive despite her best efforts. Their middle-aged daughter moving in to keep the home from complete disarray.

The woman died of a massive heart attack in the parking lot of the local Dairy Queen. Or so it was presumed. No autopsy was undertaken. She obviously died doing something she loved. The husband took her home prior to calling 911 so she could die where she lived.

He must have had a very sharp gardening sheer to remove the finger without disrupting the ring.

We did not take as much care. The atrophy of the soft tissue let the ring come off with minimal effort, although the nail came off, too.

We did take the time to wrap the finger in plastic wrap then placed in a sliding zip lock bag and tossed into the garbage. Trash day was tomorrow, after all.

The ring had what appeared to be a diamond but we both assumed it was cubic zirconia, or just glass.

The jeweler took the cleaned ring from our hands without question. He gazed through his eye loupe and sighed. Cubic zirconia, I was certain.

Then he flipped through his black book, deeper and deeper, into the realms of clarity, cut and carat, I held my breath, results hanging in the air.

“Platinum ring and setting. Two carats. I can price this at $20,000”.

And that is how we obtained the water fountain you see before you! It pulls the entire yard together.


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