Mom used to keep an avocado pit in a plastic cup on the kitchen
windowsill. My entire childhood, there was always an avocado pit,
steadied by toothpicks, floating in water on the ledge. The pits
usually grew roots. Some even grew little sprouts. But as far as I can
remember, we never had an avocado tree.
I wondered why she kept
messing with those pits, why she didn't just throw them out when she
knew it was never going to work. When I asked her, she'd always say the
same thing: "I don't know."
I don't have an avocado pit in my
kitchen. Instead, I have a strange glow. At exactly 5:50 every morning,
a fizzletickpop! sounds and a fluorescent bulb jumps to life. At 10:50
every night, the light snaps back off again. During the hours in
between seven tiny herb plants are lured into existence by the false
promise of life on their planet – which, as it happens, is an
AeroGarden indoor garden unit.
I'm not sure how to describe the
AeroGarden, other than to say it's a fantastically overly thought-out
scientific answer to actual gardening. Whereas Mom's plastic cup
glistened in the sunlight, the AeroGarden needs no natural rays.
hums. It plugs into the wall. It grows cilantro. It's truly bizarre.
But, it's all I've got: I gave up my garden when we sold our house, so
my in-laws thoughtfully bought this weird little thing for me to play
Under the harsh glare of the specially formulated
"Grow Bulbs," I watch these little seedlings sprout, these future mint,
basil and chive plants. And all I can think about is Mom's plastic cups
of avocado pits.
That and sex.
Gardening – real
gardening – is sexy. The fecund soil, teeming with life and grit and
potential. Soft, delicate shoots revealing themselves slowly before an
eager sun. The vulnerability – to drought, to rain, to wind, to bugs –
adds to the thrill of every surviving, thriving plant.
AeroGarden comes with seven soil-free pods. And nutrient tablets. And a
control panel with a little light that goes off when the water gets too
low. There's nothing mysterious about it. Nothing dirty or dangerous.
The sprouts are interesting, but I don't have a sense of ownership of
them the way I did my garden.
I remember when I grew my first
watermelon in the back yard. I planted three seedlings; two took. The
day I harvested my first melon was the day I told my sister I was
pregnant. Hubby took a picture of me kissing the six-pound melon. My
face is broken out. My hair is oily. But I have a gleam in my eye that
is pure goddess.
If gardening is like sex, then the AeroGarden
is like fertility medicine. Sure, you'll get your basil. And the pesto
will probably taste just as good. But where is the fun?
about watching life struggle into being under a regulated hum and glow
reminds me of the way I felt when we tried in vitro fertilization: I
felt like a television.
Actually, I felt like I had a
television between my legs – and my doctor and two nurses were huddled
around it, watching the game. I even offered them beer. They didn't get
it. I have a policy about not letting anyone who doesn't get my jokes
anywhere near my, um, television. Yet, here was a threesome poking and
prodding me and not getting me at all.
Maybe that's why all the
pills and shots and scientific approaches to motherhood didn't work for
me. Or maybe it's a coincidence that I got pregnant only after I
started gardening. I'll never know. That's part of the mystery.
thing I can say for the AeroGarden is that it eliminates the need to
turn on the kitchen light. By its strange glow, I made myself an
avocado and turkey sandwich this afternoon. When I cleaned up, I went
to throw out the pit, but thought better of it.
for 10 years to get pregnant after she had me. Ten years of
miscarriages and failed attempts. Ten years of avocado pits on the
windowsill. Ten years, and then she finally had Sis. I'm not sure if
there's a correlation between two seemingly fruitless endeavors, but I
like the poetry in it. So I didn't throw out the seed.
Later in the day, Hubby walked by my desk and asked, "Is that an avocado pit in a bowl?"
"Yeah," I said, not looking up.
"What's that for?" he asked
I looked over and blinked at it a few times. "I don't know."