The store is packed with people who think they have the same idea as I do, and I chuckle, because mine is much weirder. All of these shoppers are planning on planting gardens. I push my cart around secretly observing the dirt they are buying to prepare the soil. True, I have no clue about starting a garden, but I do have a whole red wheel barrow full of enthusiasm. One shopper has a giant square package of something called peat moss. I thought they threw that guy out of the Baseball Hall of Fame for gambling.
“No,” I correct myself aloud while passing the gas grills,“I think that was Pete Rose.”
I decide that peat moss must be the dirt I need. It’s fuzzy logic, but it works. I watch the stranger whose cart is filled with peat moss pass and then run with my cart to where he came from. I try to lift the giant package, but the dirt feels like a brick. I’m too weak, and too proud to ask the guy with the orange apron for help, as he stares at me struggling and walks over.
“Do you need a package of that?” He asks.
“Me, um, well... yeah.”
“Why don’t you ask me to get it for you?” He says, pulling a square bag of peat moss off the pile.
“Um, I don’t know, because I want to do it myself.” I say smiling sheepishly.
“Don’t worry, YOU CAN do it; WE can help.” The Home Depot guy says, grinning. He’s mocking me, but anyway, I get my peat moss.
"Thanks, I think that's the Lowe's store motto, but I won't tell anyone you said it." I say wheeling my cart away.
I start plotting out my plantings in my head. Here’s what makes my evolving garden special: it’s a theme garden! Every year around this time I start to miss my old job as a high school English teacher because this is the month that I would introduce my class to Shakespeare. We’d turn the classroom into the Globe theatre, a circular stage, and I'd bring in props.
Not: "Yeah, little teach is gonna give us some props, yo!”
I mean real PROPS. (Every year I had to clarify this expression.)
I’m talking about plastic swords, costumes, hats, goblets, whatever I could find to make life a little more exciting. Oh how I enjoy teaching Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. I love Shakespeare, and the looks on teens faces when they get my translation. It’s so fun. I don’t miss everything about teaching, but I miss that so much.
Why is this relevant? In addition to the vegetables, herbs and flowers I’ve already planted, my garden has a Plants Mentioned in Shakespearean Works theme!
"How excited are you right now? Oh, I am." I shout into my cell phone in aisle three to Milk Man on the other end. I can hear him rolling his eyes. That's one of the special powers you get at the tenth year of marriage.
Anyhow, my exuberant joy is increased by finding wormwood right there on the shelf waiting to be bought and planted in my Shakespearean-themed garden! WORMWOOD! This is the plant dying characters moaned about for three pages before their last breaths. How cool.
“Yay! This is wormwood!” I tell the cashier, a tall dude with lots more hair than I have.
“What?” He asks, in a low, bored voice.
“W-O-R-M W-O-O-D” I say slowly. "Ya know, the plant used to make absinthe in the 1790’s; a potent green alcoholic drink that was believed to help people 'see beyond.' Shakespeare was fascinated by it, and several characters in Hamlet talked about it as they died."
The cashier grins and leans toward my ear to whisper. “Cool. So you’re gonna, like, grow it in your backyard?”
“Yeah!” I say, not getting why he is talking on the down-low, because I’m thinking:
“Yay! Shakespeare garden!”
Not: "Yeah man, stop by my illegal drug farm, dude.”
“COOL!” He says handing me my receipt. I skip out of Home Depot with my wormwood and a full cart of other plants mentioned in Hamlet by Ophelia:
Milk Man surprises me later with a fancy black iron fence for my garden. VERY Shakespearean. First he's rolling his eyes at me, now he's feeding my obsession. Dr. Phil says that's so co-dependent.
Pictures are from my garden. In a few weeks I'll repost more, since it will be a bit more interesting as things come up.