My mother was very well organized, and we all knew what that meant on Mother’s Day. Plant the garden. Never, the rule went, plant before Mother’s Day because, sure as shootin’, if you did, you’d lose all those fragile young plants to an overnight freeze. This was St. Cloud, Minnesota, after all, and both my parents were born there. So they knew.
Zinneas in back, snap dragons in the middle, and marigolds in front. That’s the section I worked on. Mom lined up the seedlings and marked the spaces evenly with a little scratch at the dirt. My job was to follow behind with a trowel, scoop out a little dirt, drop the plant in, and press the dirt back in, enough to support the stem. My Dad’s job was to plant geraniums and petunias in the window box, and more geraniums along the back yard fence. We always had a lot of red geraniums, and I wondered how there were any left at the store. After flower duty, Dad could focus on his real passion: tomatoes.
Mom followed behind and watered everything as she inspected our work. She was also the chief pincher of dead blossoms, not so much a job as a summer-long pastime, like hanging the laundry outside. I learned to love weeding the garden, careful to pull out the weeds and not the flowers. It was easy to see my progress, and refreshing to get caught in the sprinkler afterwards.
For Mother’s Day, fellow blogger Catherine Sweeney posted a round-up of essays, including mine, on travels with our moms. I hope you enjoy these vignettes and the memories they bring to you.