A Girl and her Plants

Last night, three hard-working men dug four new flower beds in our backyard. Thus commenced great excitement from the children and agonized indecision from me about filling said beds!

While we sat at the breakfast table, I floated a few ideas about potential flowers to plant.

“We could plant geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue), like in the poem!”

“Or roses!” Stella added.

“Or lupines, like in Miss Rumphius!”


“Then again, everything I’ve read suggests neither delphiniums nor lupines will grow well in the hot Oklahoma summers,” I second-guessed.

“Mama,” Stella said in a firm, matter-of-fact tone. “I think we had better just plant one plant today. Then, we can plant another one tomorrow.”

Clearly, the girl knows her mother: Those beds will be empty a year from now, she must have thought, unless someone, anyone urges Mama past thought toward action.

Stella has already mastered her own advice. The last time we visited Lowe’s, she requested six packs of seeds: basil, dill, lavender, oregano, parsley and thyme. When we came home, she demanded that we promptly plant them.

Barely more than a week later, her dill and basil have sprouted quite nicely — and she’s grown quite fond of them. Confusingly, she named her dill plant, “Rosemary,” and her basil plant, “Celine.” She talks to them most charmingly and encourages them to grow with all her heart.

It reminds me, I told her, of two young women I used to know. How well my memory serves me, I don’t know, but the story I told Stella went something like this …

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, a young girl moved from the heartland to the coastland to begin her life as a writer in a little apartment with picture windows and hardwood floors. She was frightened, of course, to move so far away from her family, but she was excited, too.

Her mother and her father came with her at first to help her settle her new home. They painted her bedroom a cheery yellow and her kitchen a warm and rosy red. They hung red, green and yellow curtains at every window.

They found a little sideboard that just filled the entryway. It had five little compartments for mail and three deep drawers for other trinkets and sundries. Yet, the sideboard had nothing on top of it. So, her mama and daddy went back to the hardware store to purchase a plant.

They found the most cheerful little geranium plant in all the world. The girl loved it and named it “Geraldine.” When her mother and father flew home, she felt less alone in her new (old) apartment because Geraldine lived there, as well.

Monday morning came and the girl boarded the train to the city for her first day of work in a tall and friendly building. She was to share a little partially-walled office with another girl — and she was worried the other girl might not like her.

She worked quietly all morning at her desk and so did her deskmate, but, then, at the first opportunity, they struck up a conversation. It was of the usual sort between two people when they first meet.

“I’m Tina,” the girl said (at which Stella giggled because, for the first time, she knew the story was about me).

“I’m Hannah,” the other girl said.

They found out about each other’s homes and families and school experiences. Then, Tina slipped and said something about her friend Geraldine.

“Who’s Geraldine?” Hannah asked.

Tina felt shy and silly as she answered — as airily as she could, “She’s my geranium.”

Hannah smiled broadly then and said, “I have a friend named Beatrice. She’s a bamboo plant.”

That weekend, Hannah visited Tina’s apartment to meet Geraldine and, shortly thereafter, Tina visited Hannah’s apartment to meet Beatrice, and they all became fast friends.

The end.

Stella smiled and said just what I was thinking, too, “I’d like to be friends with those girls – and Rosemary and Celine would like to be friends with Geraldine and Beatrice, too!”

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