08 June 2011

Botany Bay

I know that infants have memory of a sort from the time they are born. The voices of their parents are familiar. Being swaddled is soothing because it is reminiscent of their life in the womb, synched tight on all sides. But Emmaline has recently developed memory of another kind entirely.

"Butterfly," she says without fail upon entering the part of the yard where she once, on a single occasion, saw a butterfly ascend through the air and disappear over the roof of the neighboring house.

And more recently, when asked what she dropped into the ground along the front of the yard by the road, she says," Seeds!"

It is a declaration that contains not a small piece of pride. Her cheeks glow. Her smile widens.

"And what did we say?"

"Yea!" she replies and claps her hands vigorously.

We had, in fact, stopped to clap and cheer after each and every sunflower seed of the dozens we planted was dropped ceremoniously into the dirt.

"And what did we do next?"

"Water," says Emmaline triumphantly. "Papa."

"You're right," I reply. "Papa watered the seeds so they would grow."

And grow they did. They sprouted surprisingly quickly. The seeds I had planted in a starter greenhouse in the back bathroom where the heat was somewhat dependable had failed to do anything at all until they were placed in the front garden. Now they are thriving. Paradoxically the zinnia, which sprouted quickly while inside, have taken a beating in the great outdoors and have not done well at all.

So the sunflowers seemed more dependable for a young girl's first foray into planting.

Someday I'll take her to see the Secret Garden and remind her of this. In the meantime, I put stakes around the patch to remind us where not to cut the weeds...I mean lawn, and for the space of about two weeks I was very pleased indeed.

Then last night, upon returning from a walk in which Emmaline tried to catch up with the moon, we found Scout lying in the center of the sunflower seedlings. Needless to say we should not have been surprised since she is generally the ruiner of all things wonderful. This is made up for in part by her restraint in not killing or maiming the baby when Em sits on her head. Tonight she rolled over while Em was on top of her and gave her a hefty bruise on one arm, but I saw it happen and it was entirely Em's fault.

So I am trying to forgive Scout for what I am sure is now a garden of dead sunflowers. I am trying to forgive her because when it became clear that she was ruining the gardens around the house as well, patches of barren dirt from whence the poison ivy had been (incompletely) removed thus leaving it empty, an area that I have spent countless hours toiling over and more than a few dollars installing new bulbs and seedlings into, when Scout made it clear that  she believed this was her territory to dig in, I moved the red flags from the perimeter of her electric fence to contain the garden and she has not gone in there since.

I suppose in the end that it does not actually matter. Em will be proud of her memories whether or not there are sunflowers to show her later this summer. What she remembers is the accolades for a job that was well done. That should be enough. And maybe, if we can find some more red flags to use for protection, we'll be able to salvage a few of her sunflowers as well.

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