Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Year of the Yucca

Let me tell you about another area in which I excel at creating disasters: the garden. My gardening skills are now referred to as my "black thumb." The term originated a few weeks ago. I was relating the story of how, years ago, I complained to a sports psychologist that all my training took me away from helping around the yard, causing me perpetual embarrassment in front of my husband's family who all had "green thumbs." They could grow anything. My garden looked like a compost heap. My counselor's answer? "Jeanne, you're a runner, not a gardener." But, even when I tried, I killed everything I tried to grow. I even killed cactuses. Upon hearing all this, my friend Lisa responded with: "well I have a BLACK thumb," referring to her inability to grow anything. Thus, the phrase was born.

However, killing plants did not deter me. I tried to grow shrubs, flowers, trees, vegetables, you name it. Perennials. Annuals. Inside and outside. I went into it enthusiastically, again and again, and continued to kill anything I planted or transplanted. The only things that grew in my yard were things Jim planted or things that was there before we moved in. (Which is ok, because the raspberries and blueberries are doing quite well, without my help.)

But, by far, Jim's favorite story involving me and plants is about the yucca plant in our front yard. It was here when we moved in. And for the first seven years, the yucca never bloomed. Everyone in my town has a blooming yucca but me. I mean EVERYONE. Every day I went running, I was forced to look at their blooming yuccas. Until one spring, when the plant gods smiled on me. As I was surveying the front beds after a run, I noticed a compact shoot peeking out from the yucca leaves. Finally my yucca is going to bloom. I was so excited, I could barely contain myself. I ran in the house, up the stairs and into the bathroom where Jim was taking a shower. "MY YUCCA IS GOING TO BLOOM THIS YEAR!" I cried. Jim, startled, responded with something like: "ok, ok -- CALM down." I couldn't wait for the next day. I knew from watching everyone else's yucca, the stalk would grow very fast. Before long, I would have the classic white yucca flowers that I so desired.

The next day, on the way back from my morning run, I glanced over at my yucca. I couldn't see the stalk... hmm, maybe it was hidden by the leaves... I walked over to my yucca. I started to panic. There was nothing. No flower stalk. Fear gripped me. Where was it? I spread the leaves apart to reveal what looked like someone had lopped off the stalk at its base. Who would do such a thing?!? I ran in the house, in tears, screaming at Jim that someone had cut down my yucca bloom. Again, I was met with: "ok, ok -- CALM down." He followed me outside to survey the damage. Jim's conclusion: it was the deer. They eat everything. They ate my yucca stalk just like anyone would a carrot. I secretly begin harboring ill-will toward the neighborhood deer.

To my dismay, two more years passed and the yucca stayed dormant. Until yesterday. In the midst of my renewed interest in gardening, I bent over my boring yucca to proclaim, once more, that indeed, everyone's yucca blooms except mine. Imagine my surprise to see a new stalk rising from the spikey leaves.

But this time, I'm not taking any chances. Deer, beware.

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