Initially, teaching organic flowerpot gardening was soothing. It also seemed educational to the members of my PTA whose social demands left them little discretionary time for anything except manicures, appointments with personal shoppers, and supervising the chauffeuring of their children to afterschool enrichment programs. Those gals were tapped out from having to lord over their domestic help.
Yet every Tuesday morning, two dozen of those well-coiffed, well dressed young women, all of whom sported hand jewelry inadvisable for gardening activities, assembled in my living room to learn how to make holes in dirt and to grow plants inside. They passed simple clay pots to one another and exclaimed over bags of scent-free manure as though they were watching a fashion show or bidding at an art auction.
Although these ladies felt that most forms of agriculture, historically, have been the province of men, they were insistent, to the point of paying me, that I show them how to line pots with pebbles and teach them the ills of overwatering. Their intention was not to harvest buds and blooms or even to have the chance to witness the beauty of leaves and stems, but to possess the rarified opportunity, within their circle, to tell tales about their experience with planting and weeding.
Sometimes when I distributed something like radish seeds, all the while praising the quick growth of those lovely brassicaceas, I wondered if they even heard me. They texted accountants while I praised rainy mornings. They took calls on their multifunction cell phones, while I gave over volumes about the pH of soil. They examined their nails for chips while I lectured about earthworms
Mere weeks after learning the correct spacing for cut and come again lettuce seeds, the PTA co-presidents sputtered words which mimicked mine. They workshopped ways for urban spaces to go green and announced that the local elementary school children would sponsor window boxes, which would be placed in the storefronts of businesses in a nearby impoverished neighborhood. All such containers would be labeled, in large letters, with the name of our district.
Minor PTA officers became excited about their nascent expertise. They insisted that local emissaries be sent to a 4H festival to operate a booth featuring flowerpots color-coordinated to buyers’ shirts or skirts. Those Junior Leaguers were adamant, as well, that spikenard be eliminated from all of the medians of the community’s busiest streets and that that member of the valerian family be replaced with quickly wilting geraniums.
Those projects grew. My class shrunk until no one attended. Meanwhile the establishment and maintenance of those window boxes and those medians were conducted by the gardeners, the maids, and the other individuals under those civic-minded women’s employ. The grand dames themselves were too busy scrambling to get their pictures into local newspapers to lift a spade or to maneuver a trowel.
KJ Hannah Greenberg and her hibernaculum of sometimes rabid imaginary hedgehogs roam the verbal hinterlands. Some of the homes for their writing have included: AlienSkin Magazine, AntipodeanSF, Bards and Sages, Big Pulp, Morpheus Tales, Strange, Weird and Wonderful, Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction, and The New Absurdist. When not disciplining her imaginary friends, Hannah serves as an associate editor for Bewildering Stories. She has also worked for Tangent Online as a literary critic.
To comment on this story, visit Fiction365′s Facebook page.