My mother kept apples in the fridge when we were growing up, in an effort to keep them fresh when her fussy children chose potato chips over crisp produce.
I remember one day pulling one of those apples out of the drawer and crunching it down to the core, as was the tradition of a house that believed that there was a special circle of Hell for those who wasted food.
As I took a leisurely stroll around my mother’s front garden, I imagined a lush, full apple tree sprouting there and, year after year, yielding up fruits that need never get as far as the house, let alone the crisper drawer.
Like a suspect in a crime drama, I looked both ways before kneeling to dig my anxious finger tips into the dirt. With a sly smile at the thought of a lifetime’s supply of delicious apples, I slipped that core, abounding with anticipation, into its new home in the earth. There it rotted and fed the weeds.
Ben’s roommate, Steve, was quite the ambitious culinary artist, as far as my traditionalist microwave-a-lean-cuisine-and-binge-watch-buffy sentimentalities were concerned.
Going grocery shopping with Steve in tow, I discovered whole sections of the store, each one like a little Narnia that I hadn’t even realized existed.
One night we needed chives—inexplicably, I’m sure. Who ever really needs chives?—and Steve decided—rather rashly, I must say—to buy a potted, growing, living plant of them. After we had all gone back to my apartment and shared the meal, he left the chives on a windowsill and told me they shouldn’t be too hard to care for. As such, I cannot be the sole responsible party.
When I finally threw that poor creature away, after stubbornly keeping it for months past its due date with destiny, it was the saddest, brownest, driest patch of grass in all of Pittsburgh.
I don’t know what possessed me to put the hydroponic planting system on our wedding registry.
Further, I don’t know what possessed the several otherwise intelligent women who brought it in a large box to my bridal shower to buy it for me.
I suppose it was not until I drove it home, filled it with water and plant food, and plugged it in that I realized how far in over my head I truly was.
But, like the good wife I was aspiring to be, I dutifully placed the little pods in their little homes and inevitably doomed each one to a long, laborious life filled with burns, droughts, spills, and dreadful branch mismanagement, followed finally by a merciful decay in our compost.
Even so, there was something intangibly magical about the path through the Phipps Conservatory on the Saturday in March when we went. There were only flowers and succulents and fake bird noises floating out of well-hidden speakers, but I felt as though there may have been gnomes hiding under toadstools and lilies of the valley ringing like white choral bells. When we turned the corner to see the woman handing little potted leafy plants to passing children, she seemed to me an admirable old crone, who might as well have been handing out stardust in crystal goblets. Eagerly—indeed more eagerly than I think was expected from a grown woman—I accepted one, patted it over with potting soil, and slipped it into a stiff paper sack.
Upon returning home and sprinkling it with water, I dubbed it Olenna, Dowager Lady of Highgarden. Perhaps it was the stardust in her pot, or perhaps it was the scent of rain on asphalt, but in spite of my past failures, I felt immediately compelled to sow, and have since built a garden of aspiration and promise, full to the brim with seeds that both symbolize and embody the promise of growth, beauty, and the fullness of life.
Truly, spring is full of new beginnings.
Mary Margaret is a 2013 English, history, and secondary education grad who went rogue and became a Social Worker in Pennsylvania’s Child Welfare system. Specifically, she works as a caseworker in the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network finding families for children and educating the masses about foster care, adoption, and permanency planning. She made it over the grad-school hurdle with gold stars and warm fuzzies and is on to the next big adventure: the unknown of adulthood. Her major writing dream right now is to finish her science fiction novel that explores the concurrent futures of child welfare and artificial intelligence.