Each spring, depending on where I live and for how long, I rush out and buy boatloads and buckets of flowering shrubs, impatiens, forsythia, dahlias – you name it, I buy it. Even though about one-half do not make it, every year I do it anyway. I have come to believe putting down Spring roots is as deeply entrenched an urge as nurturing children or seeking warmth. A primal and necessary urge.
I cannot pass a Lowe’s or a Home Depot without buying something. Anything! Even though the lines are so long they wind around the back of the gardening department; even though there is not a cart in sight; even though impatiens have not even arrived yet, at March’s end I experience Spring-planting-lust. I must buy something to put in the ground.
Something about putting down roots. Of course some people plant actual gardens every year, which I envy but will never, ever do. I barely have a green thumb at all, and what I have is a very pale green just on the tippy-tip.
One thing I have noticed, though, is that the men do not seem overjoyed about all the fuss. The throngs of women that storm gardening departments are usually accompanied by their husbands, sons or significant others. None of these men wear a happy face. In fact most of them wear a scowlie face. Many of them stand resolutely beside their carts, guarding them with vigilance, arms crossed, waiting for the women to pick out whatever decorative, leafy thing they want. Others have reluctantly agreed to trot dutifully behind their women, and are nearly always at odds with them. For instance, this happened last Saturday:
Woman in front of man: (Sarcastically) Thanks, Bob. Thanks a lot.
Man (Bob): What? What did I do now?
Woman: You could keep up with me. I need help loading this stuff, y’know!
Bob: Deep sigh. Silence
Woman: Thanks. Thanks a lot. Stalks away in a huff.
Bob: (Silently to himself) Why do I agree to this Every. Single. Year. He bends to pull an errant 2-year old back on the cart, and trudges after her.
Perhaps this is why the men usually park themselves and their carts placidly along the sidelines, waiting for the woman to summon them when needed. Probably a good idea that may prevent a domestic meltdown right in the middle of the begonias.
Man: Panting as he wheels cart to checkout, only to discover that the line is one-half mile long.
Woman: Smiling cheerily. “It’ll only take a few minutes. The line will go fast. You’ll see.” She turns to the gardening gloves, rose food, fertilizer pellets that line the way to checkout to spend another quick fifty bucks.
Man: “Um, haven’t we got enough?”
Woman: Spinning toward man, eyes squinting. “You never buy me ANYthing! And you are gonna deny me a little rose food? And do you want my hands to suffer? Do you? I must have gloves so I don’t kill my hands! She sniffs indignantly and continues inspecting various brands of rose food. Bayer, she told me, Bayer works best.
Man: Deep Sigh. He moves up two inches, his shoulders hunched in defeat. The people in line ignore the little spat because they are involved in one of their own. When Bob’s turn finally comes, after the tallying is done by the chirpy gardening department associate, she says, “That’ll be $1,341. 15.” He clutches his chest.
Woman: Nowhere in sight. She told him she’d wait for him in the car. Smart woman.
I’ve decided I will not drag my husband along on my Spring planting jaunts. If he wants to come, fine, but usually he does not. He is more comfortable putting the stuff in the ground. Doing man-stuff like digging the holes, toting stuff in a wheelbarrow, toting stuff out of my trunk and onto the assigned planting spot.
Works for me. So I think my Spring insight is this: the man is better at preparing and putting stuff in the ground; putting down the roots, so to speak.
The woman, though, is more gifted at running up the tab. Men don’t necessarily need to witness the annual Spring tab rolling along on a cart. I think it puts them in a bad mood. In extreme cases, it could case a sudden stroke.
I don’t have the heart to tell my husband that half the stuff I buy usually dies. I think that should be our little secret, don’t you, ladies?