In addition to the many boxes and suitcases of books, personal memorabilia and assorted ephemera I flung across country recently, I also brought something living and fairly fragile. If airport security had deemed me a great threat because of my tofu pate and had needed to inspect my carry-on, they would have discovered a small rosemary plant wrapped up in a quart-sized ziptop bag, tucked between a pair of green Crocs and a dirty tank top.
It’s just a small plant, but it is one that my dad grew from seed, out on the back deck of my parents’ house. It’s origin increases it value to me by 100 times, because one of the things that I miss most about living so far away from Portland is the ability to benefit from my dad’s vividly green thumb.
During my middle school years, we lived in a house with nearly an acre of land. My dad took his responsibility for that patch of earth seriously and, during the nearly five years we lived there, he battled ferociously against years worth of blackberry brambles, finally defeating them with the help of a rented rototiller (or was it a backhoe)? He planted a mini-farm of corn, tomatoes, squash, beans and lettuces out there and became one of those people who offers zucchini to every passerby.
In the years since, the yards have shrunk considerably, but my dad still gardens. There are pots of baby lettuces, bean vines wind up the side of the house and the flat, light-green patty pan squash hid under wide, prickly leaves. Raspberry bushes line the back fence and the front steps are flanked by lavendar and rosemary.
In addition to the games, toys, books, toasters and chairs we sold at the garage sale two weeks ago, my dad also managed to sell his garden “overstock.” A young couple showed up and, while buying a dinged up old wheelbarrow, mentioned a landscaping project they were starting. He walked them to the backyard and they struck a deal to buy several pots of plants, including a rosemary tree so robust that it had rooted itself around the planks of the deck.
He was pleased to see it all go to a good home, but my heart twinged just a little because I wanted to be the person to have all of those lovingly grown plants (even though I know it’s neither possible or practical). Right now, I am content with this one little plant that seems to have survived cross-country travel like a trooper and has taken up residence in my windowsill garden. May it grow strong and fragrant, like it’s siblings.