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My Days as a Gardener
'Mom, how do you make a garden?'
'You plant seeds. You can buy them at the nursery.'
'Can I plant a garden?'
Now this is the kind of question a mother wants to hear from her children. Not 'Can I play on the interstate?' or 'If I eat this will I die?' Something, instead, wholesome and good. An activity that not only teaches, but puts fresh produce on her table.
It was decided, then, that planting a garden would be my summer project. My mother and I planned for it to be located behind our garage, in a sunny area of our otherwise shady backyard. With my mom's help, I planted an assortment of vegetables: tomatoes, onions, potatoes ('A potato is a tuber.' 'It's a what?'), and green beans.
I later understood that gardening is generally associated with a life of leisure, with relaxation. For me, it was a competition. I'd ask my seedlings, 'Who's growing the fastest?' 'Who's the tallest?' Fearing bad karma, I tried to stay impartial, lest a subconscious preference for green beans would cause me to water them more often, while dumping bleach on the onions. Every night I'd give my parents an update on rates of growth, any signs of produce, and my never-realized irrigation plans.
One day my mother told me that some of the tomatoes were ready to be picked. We went out back, snagged a few of the plumper offerings, and that evening had salads.
Every other bite earned an accolade. 'Mmm. These tomatoes really are delicious.' 'There's just nothing like fresh tomatoes. Mmm.' 'I think we can quit saving for his college; he's a natural migrant worker.' Whatever that meant, it sounded promising. I told my family that they needn't worry: the garden was in full-swing, and that meant more fresh produce was on the way.
About a week later a tornado razed a better part of North Houston. It brought rain. It brought hail. It upended cars; it flooded houses. And in its trail it left fallen branches and trees, and removed, in whole, one tiny tomato-onion-potato-and-green-bean garden located behind my garage.
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Once we'd cleared the debris, I started a garden rehabilitation project. We got new seeds and replanted the entire spread, just as it was before.
And within a month's time, Houston played host to the devastating Hurricane Alicia. A couple of days after the storm had passed I went behind the garage to find that, yes, my garden had once again been completely uprooted by natural disaster.
I decided then that gardening didn't have much on BMX bikes.