You Can Lead a Horticulture...

July 26, 1998
  Is it hot here today? The thermometer in the shade out back reads 100, so, yeah, I guess so. In the sun it's even worse; I know this because I ventured out into it to check on my pumpkin plants, barefoot. Judging by the melting asphalt I peeled off my 3rd degree burns (hyperbole? nah...), I'd say it's just this side of hellish. And that's here in SoCal; Texas this ain't.

Pumpkin plants? Yes, I have joined the ranks of the few, the dirty, the gardeners. Sort of. I thought it'd be kind of cool to grow our own jack o' lanterns for Halloween, so about a month before we moved here I planted a handful of seeds in these tiny little starter pots. Surprisingly enough, they sprouted. A few weeks later I had to transfer them into larger pots, then after we moved in here I planted them in the ground out back. And then they exploded. Big ol' mess o' pumpkin spreading all over the side yard. They're taking over, as I've since found pumpkin plants are wont to do. I'm going to have to get medieval on them soon and cut them back before they overwhelm the house. It'll be a sad day, yes, but I'll whisper encouraging words to the unfortunate ones, telling them it's for the greater good and urging them to "take one for the team." And then I'll whack their heads off.

And speaking of whacking heads off, there's been a bit of whacking going on around here on top of what I've already 'fessed up to. In addition to own self gratification, I've also been pressed into service in the pumpkin patch. Maybe I've got a skanky batch of pumpkins, but they apparently haven't been too attractive to the local bee populace; the plants are spreading like wildfire but they haven't been growing any pumpkins. They're flowering, all right, but pollination hasn't been part of the picture. So for the past few days I've been out there in my bee suit a la John Belushi, pairing up male and female flowers, doing the bees' job for them. It feels terribly unseemly, and all kinds of puns on "horticulture" race through my mind as I'm doing it, so I've been doing it when Zoe's not around. No need for her to learn about the birds and the bees that way. God only knows how traumatized she'd be, having to tell other kids she learned about the birds and the bees by watching dad pimping for a bunch of pumpkins. Not to mention what Childrens Services might make of the whole thing... No, it's better I do this foul deed out of the sight of impressionable young eyes. I'm still trying to figure out how I'll explain to her that the pumpkins are her siblings.

So while it's hotter than blazes here today, yesterday was a day at the beach. Literally. Beth and I went down to Manhattan Beach (so named, I think, because it's just like Manhattan, NY in that you live right on top of your neighbors, only there's a beach nearby) to visit her cousin Barry, and took Zoe for her first trip to beach. She loved it. She was a bit tentative at first as I walked her down to the water, but after I sat with her in my lap and let the waves wash around us, she couldn't get enough. Every once in a while a larger wave would splash up into her face and she'd sputter a bit, so I'd ask her if she wanted to get out. No way. After a while she was shivering so hard she was practically bouncing in the lap. I asked her if she wanted to get out. No way. And when I carried her out into deeper water and dunked her in the waves she was in hog heaven.

I think we've got a little Gidget on our hands.

Copyright © 1998
Chuck Atkins