There is nothing like springtime to bring out the playful side of everyone. The air is crisp and sweet, the days last longer, and people just seem to be happier. Here in North Carolina, the yards and landscapes are just a riot of beautiful colors and just about everyone (me included) is outside planting flowers and tending to their yards. It’s really a heady time of year.
Southerners are known for many things, such as gracious manners and lovely accents. Southerners are amazing cooks and world renowned gardeners. Don’t believe me? Hellllooo…Paula Deen and Callaway anyone? I just love being a Southerner, and consider myself very lucky to have been born in the greatest region of the greatest country in the world. Of course, having said that, I am not a very good cook. Certainly, I am even worse when it comes to gardening. I love to see lush beautiful lawns and gorgeous trees and colorful flowers. I just can’t seem to make it happen. It’s okay. I’m good at other things. Really. Just trust me.
Still, I caught a big old ragin’ case of spring fever, and got all hemmed up about planting some stuff in the yard. Okay, not stuff…flowers, trees, pretty things. So I dragged Jerry and Jenda and made the trek into Winston Salem to Home Depot. I have wanted to plant trees for some time since we have only one rather scrawny Japanese maple in the yard. Still, I have not dared to plant much of anything since I am from Florida and I am used to planting in sand. I was good at it, too. However, the ground here is the consistency of Jenda’s modeling clay, so until recently, I have not been inspired. Of course, that changed with the season. Armed with a burning desire for a beautiful yard (and some shade!), I made my way to the garden center. While Jerry was drooling over power tools, I located a garden expert, who I call Duke, and I told him I wanted to plant a tree in my front yard. He showed me several types of trees, and this being the south, they were all some variety of magnolia. Jerry joined us and said, “How about a fruit tree?”
Ooh…groovy. We can get grapes, and then make our own wine! Think of the money we’ll save!!!
Duke spoke up. “Uh, ma’am, grapes grow on vines.”
I knew that. What about apple trees?
We all agreed that that was probably a good tree for ‘Beginning Gardeners Learning to Grow Stuff in Clay’. I looked through the trees, picked one out, put it on the cart and began making my way to the register. Here came Duke again.
“Uh, ma’am, do y’all want that tree there to make fruit?”
Uh, yeah, Duke. I also want it to make my bed and make me a hearty breakfast every morning when I get up. Your point…?
“Well, ma’am, y’all’re gonna need two trees to get fruit.”
WTF? I looked at Jerry, who was laughing hysterically. What’d I miss?
Jerry gave me that look that he usually reserves for small children and the feeble minded (me, in most cases.) “Trees have to cross-pollinate. It takes two of them to bear fruit.”
Cross what? What are you babbling about? I gave Duke what I hoped was a withering look. That’s just a gimmick to get us to spend more money, I announced grandly.
Jerry shook his head. “No. The trees have to cross-pollinate. There have to be two so one can fertilize the other one. Like when we had Jenda….y’know?”
Lemme get this straight. Tree nookie?
“Yes, in a manner of speaking.”
In the yard, in front of the neighbors? Are you for real?
Duke chimed back in. “It’s how the pollen gets moved from the male to the female tree, so the female tree can make fruit.”
I looked at the trees they had for sale and snorted. How do you know which is which? What if I get two trees that are gay? Then what?
Duke beat a pretty hasty retreat, probably to go ask his boss for a transfer. Jerry grabbed another tree and some garden stuff, loaded everything into the car, and got us the hell out of there pretty quickly. I spent the ride home telling myself I would never eat apples again and praying that grape vines found a less unseemly way to grow fruit. I was sick with imagining what was REALLY in my Kendall Jackson! I was jolted back to reality by the sound of Jerry singing. I was happy that HE was in a good mood, then I listened to the tune….
“Love is in the air, everywhere I look around…love is in the air, every sight and every sound….”
I put up with it until he got to the chorus about ‘the whisper of the trees’ and then I had reached my limit! I jumped out of the car as soon as we got home and googled grapes and cross pollination. I was safe. No grapevine nookie, so I poured myself some Chardonnay and ignored Jerry’s snide little songs and snarky comments. Like I would know anything about tree nookie. I never planted a tree before, and heaven knows, for years, I thought fruit came from Publix! Who knew?
Jerry has since planted our trees, and I’m still not sure if they’re gay or straight. But no matter. I’m much more accepting of the whole tree nookie concept now. I even smile when Jerry sings little songs. Jenda thinks the whole thing is wonderful and dutifully helps us tend to the trees. She helps water them everyday and she always asks, “Mommy, when are we gonna grow some fruit?”
I tell her to be patient. Then, I sing MY little song….
‘The answer is blowin’ in the wind!’