I walk into the dusty hardware store. Measuring cups, rakes, plumbing supplies surround me. The man who offers to help me find something is merely a voice in the background, who I thank and leave in a daze, wandering around the aisles. But it isn’t long before the tug that dominates my brain pulls me to the right section. Plastic pots, shiny trowels, bags of specialty soils greet me. This is what I have come for. To till the earth.
I choose several small pots of grey and olive. $1.99 fits my small budget, for which I am thankful. The soil takes a few more minutes to find, buried under brightly colored packages that advertise “quick grow” or “orchid soil” or “organic fertilizer”. The small, unassuming bag of potting soil at the bottom is unadorned, and the price matches its lowly state, a price that means I pick it up with joy.
I ask at the register, on a fluke. “Do you all have any seeds?” The girl looks at me like I have three heads, and tells me matter-of-fact that they have been put away for the winter. Alas for us late-bloomers who wake up with dreams of growing things on November mornings.
It matters not. I slip over to the florist’s shop, where they greet me, they know my name (it seems that I have a passion for the living already in the flowers that adorn my writing desk). They have, I know, tiny succulents in equally tiny pots. Perfect for the beginning of the colony on my windowsill. I buy three, trying not to tip the gravel out onto the floor of the shop as I fumble for exact change.
I float home, successful in my spontaneity, feeling that having three heads didn’t matter, as long as there was earth and life in my shopping bag. In my cell, I scoop messy soil from the bag into the pots, sitting indian-style on the top of my desk, concentrated on the windowsill where four little pots sit. Into one, I transfer the succulents, where they sit perkily atop their brown, crumbled skirt. Into the other three, I hatch plots for what I will grow as I acquire seed, seedlings and inspiration.
But it is enough, I think, to know that there is something alive, living, growing. We are in good company.