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“Frond” courtesy of Phyllis H. aka Phyllis Ophelia, who’s work is as intriguing as her word choices. Check out her musical stylings here.
HomicideMatricidePatricideInfanticide. Pesticide. There must be a word for “plant killer”. She thumbs her so-called smart thing, but this side of the fields, too close to the woods, connection wonky. She pockets phone, picks up gloves, surveys this land — productive, managed abutting wild, untamable — in her care. She said “owned” at first, she and her partner title-flushed, giddy, casting for some combination of their names with which to christen their farm, before discovering one cannot possess a wild thing, contracts between living entities as permeable as paper, intellectual plans at the mercy of indiscriminant, benevolent, violent Mother Nature. And the forces of evil, man-made.
Her mother: ritualistic plant murderer. Every year, as spring slumped into sodden summer, The Great Fern Massacre, carcasses listing in moldy macramé baskets. Successful in all matters unrelated to homemaking, her mother adhered to a tradition of seasonal shifts: pumpkin and gourd piles on the front entrance signaled fall, holly garlands and potted poinsettias at Christmas, ferns hanging on the back patio in the warm weather months. A checklist, checked. Picture-perfect installations, untended, switched out on schedule, dead or alive.
MeeMaw taught her the rudimentary language of plants, planting. Summers, shipped off to grandparents the moment school let out, shedding plaid uniform for stained overalls, the picturesque costal city for the flat plains of the family farm her mother refused to return to, set foot on. Summer, after all, hospitality high season, and a single mother’s primary responsibility, as sole provider, shoulder all burdens financial.
Which her mother did. Provide. They lacked for nothing purchasable at retail.
She slid into those overalls as though sliding into her real life, romping though fields, unfettered. She can still summon the thrill, first time driving a tractor, the power of piloting that rumbling monster, earth churning in their wake. The greedy satisfaction of sweet tea after a row well-hoed.
The logic of plant/water/feed/weed/watch/prune/harvest made more sense than, say, the abstraction of Algebra. The laws of nature immutable, unlike the laws of man, unlike the manipulable mutable laws of the legal system. Her mother has not forgiven her for ditching law school. Or for other things. Or everything. Hard to parse, the silent disappointments.
Her mother has not once visited, has not seen this land she has burrowed into. This land she is fighting for, defending against a ruthless monolith, “pests” not the only victim of their murderous machinations. Her law education useful at last.
High season, impossible to get away. Her mother surely has sycophants, assistants, girls who wear appropriate dresses, match their handbags to their shoes, allow her mother to match them with young men who dress the part of “appropriate gentleman caller”. Mother’s needs will be attended to, and once the summer farmers’ market gauntlet winds down, the CSA delivery schedule abates, the next motion filed, then she will see about responding to her mother’s summons.
She is the sole proprietor now, responsible for the health of the growing things, the seasonal workers, the year-round stalwarts who save her ass, the financials, the legal battles to sustain the right to grow sustenance by nurturing the soil from which all life springs.
Proprietor, servant, champion. Daughter of this land.
“frond” began with a word, and a visit to the new incarnation of Soho stalwart Le Jardins, now blooming on Avenue C (east village, nyc). The scribbling continued over two days (Day 1: Americano, Day 2: Almond Latte) at Local (soho, nyc), who, true to their name, is serving their own blend of organic/fair trade/shade grown roasted beans, alongside a variety of responsibly-sourced edibles out of their silver of a space — a true neighborhood gem.
There was quite a bit of city-wandering in-between.
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