I posted this tonight, and I'm actually rather proud of it, thank you very much. :D
Imagine my disappointment when I, someone who grew up surrounded by plants and animals, was banished to a dark, empty apartment for my first semester at Cal State Long Beach. Eventually the darkness subsided as I learned it was actually safe to open the blinds during the day, and a roommate and our combined eclectic collection of decoratory knick-knacks began to fill the blank spaces.
However, there was still an empty place in my soul—there was still no life in the apartment! So, I plotted to grow something potted. On my next venture back home to our fairly quiet country town near San Diego, I took a one-gallon pot and plenty of soil from my dad’s nursery supplies. It was growing up on his tiny commercial palm farm that sparked my ingrown desire to have something living to care for no matter where I was. I also filched some old seed packets that had been gathering dust for ages and, upon realizing that the old dead things might never grow, wandered around in the jungle of our yard looking for flowering plants with seeds to offer.
With my new stash in arms on the day of my return to Long Beach from the weekend, I feverishly threw the rest of my belongings to the side and got to work on my project. The daisy I had gotten my roommate for her birthday was sitting on the kitchen window sill in a brand new pot with too much new soil in it, still yellow and droopy-leafed, all the bright red flowers gone. It was my disappointment with the turnout of this plant that had inspired me to try once again, this time from scratch.
I poured the soil into the pot and patted it down firmly a few inches from the top like my father had taught me to do when planting seeds for his enterprise. I then sprinkled the seed packets one-by-one onto the surface and covered them with more dirt. Another firm pat and a little water from one of the glasses half full of water my roommate constantly leaves lying around, and the project was (for now) complete. I set the pot on top of the entertainment center and opened the blinds to let the last evening sunlight in. Hands on hips, I hoped more than anything the little seeds would sprout before my eyes and blossom, causing my happiness to bloom with it.
In reality, there was no sign of anything for two weeks. Finally, three little sprouts appeared. I yelled to my roommate to Come, look at this! but she was asleep as I recalled, so I sighed and got into the shower. I went to look at the pot again and lo and behold there were two more sprouts peeking their little noses above the dirt. Later my boyfriend came over and I proudly displayed my handiwork, explaining to him how the last to sprouts had grown while I was in the shower. He didn’t believe me, he said I just hadn’t seen them before, but I knew those little plants were special.
A few more sprouts occurred over the next few days, and soon there were no less than nine plants, a couple of inches tall. However, I began to notice a thin white mold covering the surface of the soil where the rim of the pot cast a shadow when the sun was up. Disgruntled, I texted my dad to ask what this was all about. He never answered because he isn’t the technological type. In any case, I felt my little plants were doomed because I remembered the thin white mold that had covered the leaves of my roommate’s daisy shortly before it began to die. However, they merely continued to grow, and when I went back home for spring break I knew they’d still be there when I got back.
I believe my dad coined the phrase “you’ve grown like weeds!” I don’t really, but I remember him saying that as soon as we popped out of the suburban returned from a road trip to my mom’s parents’ states away. I thought this was rather silly because all the weeds I knew seemed to always be very tall just before they were poisoned by my dad’s roundup wand. What it should have been was “you’ve grown like corn!” because every time I went somewhere for a while after planting seeds in our little vegetable garden, the corn was always inches ahead of the rest of the vegetables. Well, whatever they grew like, these plants had gone crazy by the time I got back from my break. They were nearly all a foot tall and had begun to weave in the air.
I excitedly deposited the little packet of plant food my mom had given me into the pot, along with a little packet of seeds I’d also picked up. I didn’t bother to bury them 1/16th of an inch like the package described because I didn’t want to further the journey for the other little seeds I hoped were growing like corn (or weeds) under the soil.
I also noticed upon my return that not only had the mold spread a little across the surface due to the lack of open blinds, but fruit flies had also taken up residence. I blew on the little pests, hoping they would find some other place to haunt, like the dying daisy, but they just swirled around my head before heading back to the moldy soil.
I rolled my eyes in frustration and got to work on my next project supposed to bring life into the apartment—a tank for frogs. The idea originated with my roommate, who said that there were so many dang flies, it would probably be the best investment we’d ever make. I pointed out the pet store by the local grocer’s carried frogs, so instead of buy them mail order like we’d seen in an ad I’d gotten, we opted for the more reliable choice. However, upon visiting the shop, I found that although the frogs themselves were fairly cheap, all the equipment was far from it. I decided that the old lighted fish tank I’d used since I started high school to house all the gouramis I’d tried to raise would make a good home, while the moss my dad used to pad the roots of palms he mailed would make good bedding. I took the lid off of a overly large peach-scented candle to use as the miniature pond, knowing full well that my dad would hate the scent of peach wafting through the kitchen with the lid gone (as that was why he stowed it in the back of the pantry in the first place), but didn’t worry too much about it since I’d be over an hour away by then.
I finally got everything in place, with an aquarium log decoration in for the scenery. When I had told my mom about the idea to get frogs for the apartment she thought it was a terrible idea, but didn’t try to stop me. She told me of the frog infestation they’d had in her childhood pool one summer, and how the croaking kept them all up at night, wishing all the frogs would really croak. “Why don’t you get a turtle?” she said. I then proceeded to tell her about salmonella poisoning, and how my roommate hated turtles because of a bad experience with an overly excited one that splashed around in its tank all night. “Oh,” she said.
So when we went to Los Angeles for one of my amateur photography expeditions, she decided she’d get a little ceramic frog for my roommate in China Town.
Now that little ceramic frog is the only thing in that tank.
I still hope that one day soon there will be some sort of living thing in there—besides the fruit flies I mean.There 'tis. Tell me what you thought.