Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Some Things Stay The Same
by James Glaser
June 6, 2008

It doesn't matter if you are living in the North or the South, some times you just have a bad day. I don't know if it was the heat or maybe the long list of things I had to do, or it could have been all the mistakes I was making cutting boards on the table saw, but what ever it was, Tuesday was not going well at all.

Some times it is just better to walk away on a day like that, and that is what I did. I headed home and tried to do some paper work. But paper work on a bad day never goes well, and I should have known that. Well, I cranked the AC up and sat for a while wondering what I could do to turn the day around, and I started thinking of gardening.

Back home in Northern Minnesota, many people are still planting their gardens. I can remember all the years I started mine before Memorial Day only to have a hard killing frost come along and wipe all the new growth out. Most people along the Canadian border wait at least until after the full moon in May or better yet, the first week of June before they put plants in the ground.

"If you can walk in the soil of your garden barefoot and not get cold," I was always told you could then feel safe planting.

Maybe that is what was wrong with me on Tuesday. I knew it was the right time of year to plant, I hadn't been working in bare soil for a long time, and I missed it. Last week I had put up a new flower box on the north side of the gallery, and I needed to plant it. Also, the petunias I had in the two boxes facing west had run their course, so I needed new flowers there, too.

I had already replaced one of the petunia boxes with yellow lantana, but they were not showing the color I wanted, so I moved them to the new flower box and headed out to the nursery. Plant shopping is always fun. You can find some real deals at the big box stores like Lowes, Target, or Home Depot, but local nurseries have plants you've never heard of or seen before. I needed some thing that could handle six hours of afternoon sun and that would show up from distance.

I wanted wave petunias, but was told Florida was too hot for them in the summer. But they did recommend a hybrid periwinkle that had some dark blue flowers and that would spread out in the flower box. I bought 14 of them, and after cleaning out the old plants and making the soil look nice by taking out all the leaves and sticks, and raking the soil with my hands, I planted, and sure enough they looked nice from the road.

After I cleaned up from planting, I was feeling pretty good. I got out the rake and cleaned the area right around the base of the building my gallery is in and blew off the parking lot. By then it was close to supper time. I put everything away and headed home feeling good about what I had accomplished. I think there is something about planting and getting your hands dirty in soil that makes you feel right. No, you can't plant a garden this time of year in Florida, and I guess my gardening clock is still set to Northern Minnesota time, but that afternoon of planting gave me my fix, and the rest of the week has gone much better.

Wednesday I headed down to the shop and all my cuts on the saw were right on, and I finished my project in record time. I guess I just needed a change of pace for a few hours to get me back on track. The flowers still look good, and I think the Lantana like the north side of the building better. You can tell that they are looking west, because all the flowers are looking that way, and I bet they enjoy the bit of sun they get in the late afternoon as the sun peaks around the building across the street.

Of course, just like back home, I talk to my plants every day. They never answer me verbally, but I think they like the conversation, because they keep growing and putting out new blooms.

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