The Quirky Gardener

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My mother, Ruth Gill, was a quirky but elegant, courageous yet tender, intelligent and curious  woman. And I can put that in this blog because its Mother’s Day! But back to gardening, with just a few of her quirky twists.

When I was little, we lived on Hewit Drive, at that time the “fancy” neighborhood. One year,  the grubs killed a large patch of the front lawn, and instead of rushing to plant new grass, she planted and harvested a crop of blackeyed peas. In the front lawn! On Hewit Drive!  That’s seeing opportunity where others would not.

I  often found her in the garden, pulling weeds, and eating them! Purslane was one of her favorites, and now one of mine.  I  grow it in a pot  for a delicious and very healthy stir fry. She always said “The best revenge against a weed is to eat it.” Once we were camped on Matagorda Island with nothing left to eat but a can of tuna fish. She went for a walk and scoured up a mess of wild onion and peppergrass, and turned a boring can of tuna fish into a gourmet seasonal tuna salad.

Another time, she brought in some Giant Pothos ivy leaves which she arranged in a vase on the table. As a few days passed, I noticed brownish green pellets under the plant and looked more closely. There was a caterpillar munching on the leaves, and I was indignant to share my table with a munching and pooping caterpillar. When I told my mother there was a caterpillar, expecting her to be dismayed and pick it off, she instead replied “Yes, isn’t she just a marvelous artist? I love to watch her work,  the changing pattern she makes in the leaves, new every day.” And of course she was right, she had a way of seeing and appreciating the marvels around us that most people miss. I am so thankful to my mother for opening my eyes to the wonders of nature and gardening.  

-James

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