Monday, April 13, 2009

Mission Possible, My Dear Watsonia

It was a dark and stormy night. No, wait. I'll go another night, the wind and rain will mess up my hair.

It was a dark and oh so extraordinarily, still night. The air was thick with humidity, the consistency of grits. If a tree fell in the forest this night, no one would hear as the sound waves would stop dead in their tracks, resisting penetration into the thick, night air. Regardless, STEALTH was still the operative word on this night of:

Mission Possible.

Not long before this night of adventure, I'd stumbled onto knowledge of a rare and beautiful plant. A plant, without question, I had to possess. It was not enough to gaze at it from afar via a photograph on the internet. After all, are photos ever really enough? Would you not rather enjoy an object of such fascination in the flesh and blood? Or in this case, cellulose and chlorophyll?

And what is that object of my affection, my dear Watsonia? Yes, that's it, it's elementary my dear, Watsonia! Watsonia!

The search began, countless hours and days I scoured the web like a gardener crazed, to no avail. If people grow this, where in tarnation do they obtain it? Well, you can kiss my aster! It came to me like a bolt of lightning out of nowhere! The one person to possess it in this land of plenty? CYNTHIA! Apparently, unbeknownst to the rest of the known world, she had procured it and cornered the horticultural market of this stunningly beautiful plant, placing it in her fine garden of one acre.

Suuuuuuuuuure, Cynthia comes across as friendly enough and generous enough with all of that pesky goatsbeard she tries to divest herself of, offering it to unsuspecting gardeners like myself. But she has a deeper, more sinister agenda with my dear Watsonia: a monopoly for herself.

For all intents and purposes, having Watsonia for myself was seemingly a mission impossible.

After much thought and counting of precious pennies, I determined a trip to South Africa to obtain the beauty (Watsonia, not Cynthia) was out of the question in my current financial straits. The only other alternative? A daring mission to alleviate Cynthia of the treasured flower. Guarding such a rare beauty would consume far too many of her resources and being the friend I am, how can I let her drain herself that way? Unselfishly, I plotted to come to her aid . . .

Later, after consulting adventure guru Harrison Ford, a wise guy, for tips on how to obtain such treasure, I ended up disregarding all of his advice as too dangerous and formulated my own plan. After all, what does he know about taking care of hair and keeping outfits clean while swinging on vines? I would have that plant, come you-know-what (my mama won't let me say that word, after all, I DO have standards) or high water. So I devised my plan and waited until the flower was in bloom so I'd know which plant it is (because she has such a godawful variety of them I had to be sure which one it was I was going to 'borrow' and her garden is large). Maybe I should have consulted a garden coach . . .

The night arrived in full splendor. (Why it was splendous, I have no clue but just wanted to say it). The stars were winking as if they knew my secret, that indeed that night, the flower would be mine! I drove what seemed like forever to her beautiful garden, into the depths of the unknown, somewhat like a holler in Kentucky, falling into nowhere at the ends of the earth. Parking my getaway vehicle behind some trees, I got out and advanced on foot to her garden, lit only by those damn stars that wouldn't refrain from going on and off. Where was the moon when you needed it?! Oh, forgot, I brought a flashlight! One of the solar-powered jobbies, as I am somewhat of a greenie. Funny thing about those, how do they work at night when there is no sun?

So, I went back to the getaway truck (because real women drive trucks) and got a battery-powered ungreen flashlight that actually worked, making mental plans to return the other one for a refund since it didn't work at night as promised.

Flashlight in hand, I advanced AGAIN, towards the prize, being wary of her guard cat, Tootie. I hoped that Tootie would recognize me from my picture on MySpace where I had seen her photo millions of times. She appeared to be mesmerized by the koi swimming gracefully in the pond (I couldn't actually see them in the dark but I did see them on video once and assumed they were still swimming) and let me continue undisturbed. Ever so silently, I worked my way around the garden, sometimes having to take to my hands and knees to crawl through the tangled jungle of unweeded nutsedge she so despises removing (you'd think she loves that stuff the way she grows it) and creeping over hostas. The nutsedge swaying over my head, I slithered along the ground, low on my belly on my reconnaisance mission. It was a fortuitous choice my wearing black that evening even though part of me looks pretty good in white and so I had thought of diguising myself as a moonflower. (The white would have been a laundry faux pas and who KNEW that black spandex and a cape would look THIS good at night?!). The process was made so much easier not having to drag my boot/cast behind me, the ankle healing just in time for me to wear my much-loved stilettos for this mission of retrieval. That darn clunky boot/cast/thingy would never have worked as part of such a stylin' secret mission outfit.

I rounded the pond. WHEW! When was the last time she cleaned the puddle?! I need to get Dan Eskelson down here on the double, Master Pond Scum Scrubber that he is . . . and learn her a thing or two!

Like I said, I rounded the pond and spied something. Something tall, something green (or at least I think it was green, everything looks black at night) and knobby at the top with what might possibly be solid masses of flowers. On target, I crouched down low, moving forward slowly, making sure Tootie the attack cat was still suitably occupied with her tuna casserole. Having satisfied my anxiety, I made a grab for the stem, pulling hard to wrest it from the ground, keeping the rootball intact. For as hard as the stem was and as heavy as the plant was, you'd have thought this was ironweed instead of watsonia! It felt as if it could be made of steel! That bugger must have hundreds of blooms up there for it was incredibly top-heavy, swaying in the night, back and forth and swinging wildly around, almost falling to the ground!! What a magnificent specimen! No matter, I had come this far, I was up for the task! I'd not been lifting weights for nothing! Weeks of preparation would NOT be wasted!

With the gold in my grasp, I made for the getaway truck, raced to open the bed cover, threw the massive plant in, dirt spraying everywhere in my haste before plunking it into a bucket of water!
But, oh no! Mercy me! I had to go back. I couldn't come all this way and not leave Cynthia a note! What would she think of my manners if she found out I'd been in the area and didn't stop? Grabbing a pen and pad of paper delicately decorated with a gardening motif, of course, and dictated a note to myself to leave on her door: "Hey Girly-Girl! Sorry I missed you. Stopped by but apparently you were otherwise occupied for I didn't see you anywhere! Let's have tea sometime. I'll bring lovely hats! Ta ta! Your bff, Garden Chick."

Slipping the note into the space between the screen door and the jamb, I danced an eager jig all the way back to the mission-mobile, anticipation lighting up my countenance as it does each and every time I get a new plant.

Getting behind the wheel, I could not believe my good fortune! To have the Watsonia in my grasp! Okay, in the truck bed. But to FINALLY have it in my possession! Such a monstrous one at that! The mystery of where to obtain it: solved! The mission of retrieving it: accomplished! All right, so a little guilt was niggling at the back of my brain but I knew of her hunger for new plants and I would send her some more of her first horticultural love: nutsedge (Seriously, I think she collects it). Maybe something else different mixed in, liiiiiiike maybe goats beard or 'knock-out' salvia, knowing she'd appreciate it even not knowing why she'd be receiving it.

Smiling all the way home, I mentally envisioned myself planting the new acquisition in my garden. The siting, the planting, the nurturing, the watering, waiting for it to thrive in it's new home. Such visions sustained me and kept me alert the entire way home. My hair was actually a freaky mess full of twigs and oak leaves (doesn't she rake?), my absolutely-to-die-for spandex outfit ruined beyond repair literally falling off my body, dirt smudges caked on my cheeks. Why, I'd not been that tore up since my last night of Shipe hunting!

Too sleepy to do anything other than fall into the soft arms of my awaiting bed, I thought like Scarlett, "I'll think about it tomorrow!" After all, it wasn't as if Mauro Media was beating down my door for a photo shoot or anything! (Although one could hope ; ) So, off into the land of slumber I went, drifting away into dreamland on a bed of the soft, red petals of Watsonia.

Waking into the sunshine of a blessed and glorious day, I slowly made my way to the computer with a light, yet nutritous, breakfast of champions, anticipating the installation of my new "find". Excitedly, I decided to share the fact with Cynthia that I'd "found" a Watsonia. After all, she didn't need to know where it came from and she'd be so happy for me, for we'd been discussing the search for so long. She wouldn't even notice it missing from the abundance of plants in that large garden of hers! I knew for a fact that she had three shipments coming from Bluestone Perennials ALONE anyway!

Hitting send after I'd penned the e-mail detailing my discovery, it was only a moment before she messaged back. She must've had caffeine this morning before going to her 9 to 5 to 9 job!

She wrote:

"I am sooooooo happy you were able to come up with a source that enabled you to get a Watsonia! I know how much I love mine and that you, being without one, grieved you to no end and frustrated the buhgeegees out of you. But after you plant it, would you please mind bringing my birdfeeder back?"

Drats! It must’ve been that damn cat, Tootie!


Chrisitna Salwitz, The Personal Garden Coach said...

Only one word will do - BRILLIANT! OK, and creative! Very fun how you worked so many of us into your post. Way to go!

Andrew said...

This is great fun. :-) Thanks so much for the linkage! I don't know that I've ever been linked to from a short story before.

kate smudges said...

This was great fun ~ methinks you could have a wonderful career writing adventure novels around gardening. I was happy to see that I guessed right about who some of the people were in the story. Loved how you incorporated 'smudges'.

Dan Eskelson said...

Your ability to weave diverse content and links into the narrative is outstanding!

I am WAY impressed with your talent!

And thank you for including a link to my blog.

Keep writing!



Dirt Guy said...

This was a riot! Bravo!

Garden Chick said...

Thank you! It was fun writing that as a humorous tribute to my friend, Cynthia. Dan your compliment inspires me!