Friday, May 22, 2009

They do if you pick them

"Pick the pansies" was my sister's task as a child. I never heard that. I folded laundry and set the table and cleared the table and dusted. I vacuumed the middle of rooms and got A's in seven school subjects and worked at the shopping mall folding lingerie evenings. My sister got B's and didn't have a job until she went to college. On my birthday, when my mother gave me a pot of pansies for my doorstep, my sister said, "Pick your pansies." I said, "Pick them?" and my mother said, "They produce if you pick them, and they like water." It was strange information to me. Ever since, I water and feed and pick them each morning as if I were a child, a younger daughter, a daughter without other duties, though I have those, too. There are two bowlfuls of them in the house.

For my ninth birthday, my grandmother arranged for me to have a kitten. I picked the loneliest one, the one I thought needed a home the most. She was black with gold eyes and hid under the couch with her claws spread. I named her Petunia. When I received the pot of pansies, I breached garden etiquette by calling them "petunias." In childhood I had learned the difference between a zucchini and a cucumber, since I picked them, weeded their rows, and tossed our salad.

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