Friday, November 21, 2008


My husband is green.

He doesn’t know this.

He thinks that he is black and white or perhaps shades of gray, but certainly not one of those tree-hugging-save-the-planet types. He is for progress and productivity. The black and white stuff. He talks the talk, but walking the walk is a whole different matter.

Some years ago he became an avid recycler. This was, of course, under the guise of ‘cost effectiveness’, as he hauled our trash to the dump weekly and paid by the pound to deposit our waste; no charge for cans, bottles, plastic and cardboard recycled items.

About a year ago, he decided running to the dump was time consuming and a near break-even with paying a private company to collect. He continued to sort recyclable items, even though the cost was fixed regardless, chalking it up to habit and “the right thing to do.” Recently, however, he noticed that the collecting company tosseS all of the cardboard directly in with the trash, recycling only the cans, bottles and plastic. We now have a weekly curbside collection and a trip to the dump with cardboard.

His greenest tendencies, however, are revealed in his passion for plant life. He has always been a plant guy and has carted a Corn Dracaena plant around since his teenage years, house to house, move by move. It is a monster, this plant, and quite frankly not all that lovely to look at. It dwarfs every room in our home and has never found enough sunlight in any window. Its leaves are brown and crunchy on the ends and it is a dust magnet. I have begged, pleaded and threatened to slowly poison it, but his attachment to this plant defies logic. Every seven years, the monster blooms one long shoot dotted with pink flowers that only open at night, filling the air with breathtaking perfume and he gloats with a “See, I told you” look, buying a stay of execution for the next seven years.

Shortly after we got married, we moved into a condo with lots of light but no southern exposure. I had a beautiful potted Hibiscus with glorious red flowers that found our new dwelling to be deadly. Slowly but surly, all signs of life dissipated and I was left with a pot of sticks. We did battle over tossing the plant, which I was determined to do, but Mr. Green Jeans would not hear of it. One day, while he was working, I tossed the pot of death into the dumpster, knowing that by the time he realized it was missing, it would be long gone. Problem solved. The very next morning, I found him rummaging through the dumpster until he rescued the pot of sticks, glaring at me like I was the Grim Reaper. “How could you?” he asked climbing out of the dumpster, brushing off debris and of course, he brought the sticks back to life.

He has kept this pattern of behavior through the years, watering plants belonging to neighbors that moved and left pots to die on their front porches, eventually bringing them home when abandonment was certain.

I have gotten used to his quirky green behaviors and understand that any broken shoot off of any plant must be rooted and potted; any random pine tree seedling in any garden must be delicately uprooted and potted and any perennial herb that might not stand the New England freeze must be dug out of his vegetable garden and yes…potted.

His latest rescue has me worried.

It is tradition every year after carving Halloween pumpkins that he and Cadence roast the pumpkin seeds for eating. Last week he called her into the kitchen with great excitement.

The Jack-O-Lanterns on the front porch were ready for composting over the stone wall in back and in relocating them; he found one little seed inside that had begun to sprout.

This, to my husband, is a life.

This, to my husband, is sacred.

He filled a little water bottle bottom with soil and planted the ‘little fella’ in the kitchen window. Sure enough, it began to uncurl its neck and lifted its head from the soil. Within four days, it was an inch tall. Four days later, it was two inches tall and continues to grow at a rate of ¼ inch per day.

“What do you think you are doing?” I ask, watching him water the seedling.

“Growing a pumpkin plant.” He answers matter-of-factly, “Just until spring and then I’ll move it outside.”

“You’re kidding me, right?” I ask, knowing full well that he is not.

“It already sprouted.” He defends, “and I’ll move it outside in March. It’ll be great. We’ll probably get huge pumpkins.”

“You do know that the ground is still frozen in March and that frost kills until late April, right? And you do know that pumpkins grow as a vine and that the stalk is about an inch thick and the leaves are bigger than your head, right?” I ask.

He turns to the sink and begins to rinse dishes to put in the dishwasher. “It won’t get that big that soon.” He answers, as if the subject is closed.

“April is five months away!” I retort to deaf ears. I prepare to Google some sense into him and print out three articles on pumpkin development.

“Did you know,” I begin, armed with data “Ten weeks after planting, the first flowers suddenly appear, bringing us to right about Christmas and that at its peak, the vine can grow as much as 6" a day?” He grins sheepishly while I continue. “Tendrils are touch sensitive and will tightly curl around any waiting objects in the path of the vine. Where exactly do you want to keep the 30’ long tendril grabbing giant?” I ask, shrill tone taking my voice.

“Your office?” He answers, glancing to my little 10 x 6 sun room with wall to wall windows.

I ignore his answer and explain that it would be pointless as he would never get pumpkins from it since there are no bees in my office to carry the pollen from male to female flower. I read the fertilization passage on the page in front of me, not stopping quickly enough and spit out that “Some avid growers imitate the bees and pollinate the pumpkins manually. The process is quite simple: use a small artist's brush to gather pollen from the males; carefully carry it to a chosen female and deposit the pollen by "painting" the center of her flower.”

He chuckles.

I think I need to hide the paint brushes.