Then I came upstairs and caressed the plants in the windowsill. The limp leafed green salad bowl lettuce, the wild and crazy arugula, the tall and stately garlic, the round baby bottomed leaf broccoli, the spiked and jagged Kale. I love them all. And I moved the little rescued chair over to gaze at the rising sun. As I sit here the grosbeaks are dancing in front of my window, playing and laughing, flitting from tree to tree. I glance at the new dollar store pot with the cherry tomato seeds that I purchased and planted yesterday. My eyes travel upwards to spy at the stunted herbs that I harvested a week ago, snipping them off to spice my food but leaving an inch in each pot to regrow. Then I move my eyes back to the tomato pot and I feel empty.
All the other seeds are heirloom seeds that I purchased in the fall, fearing a food shortage and wanting to have a good supply. I spent more than five hundred dollars on seeds, wanting to make sure all my children had ample supply. I took the box out at Christmas with the dream we would all sit in a circle and sort through, picking whatever we wanted. With COVID-19 though, there were no family gatherings. So, one by one my children came and sorted through the box. One of them came inside and sat on the couch with his spouse, and another crouched outside on the sidewalk in the snow and let her children pick through. Another son chatted with me on skype because travel was restricted and we talked about what he and his wife wanted and were able to grow in his little Vancouver apartment window. I sent them in an envelope with a loving letter. The fourth child, who was actually the second in line, rejected them at Christmas but now that it’s nearing planting time she’s come inside and chatted with me while she made her choices. I still have one child to go through the box. Actually she was the first to take her pick but never brought them home with her. She is my baby. So her chosen packets sit in a little stack in the bottom of the burlap shopping bag that holds the box of seeds. I hope she pulled out some of her favorites before they were all taken by the others. And it seems all my cherry tomatoes are gone. I didn’t pick my seeds first.
So what do you do with that? It used to be that you could buy a tomato in the store, take it home, fix your salad, and pull out one or two seeds to plant. You’d nurture these till they gave you an endless supply of babies. That time is gone now, with hybrid seeds. The bush that grows from these hybrid seeds is barren. They’re kind of like mules, unable to breed.
Do I accept the dollar store seeds? Or do I ask my daughter-in-law to share the package she chose? And do I dare look to see if my baby picked some for herself?
(Thank you Tristan Gevaux for sharing your photo on Unsplash)