Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mom's Marijuana

Mom had six kids. Yeah, okay, so did dad . . . but it was the 1960s & 70s in suburbia America. The U.S. may have been in the midst of women's marches and cries of equal rights, but mom and dad were still children of the 1930s which meant mom was in charge of the kids and dad was in charge of bringing home the bacon . . . for quite a while, anyway.

Some of those six kids, or maybe all of them, were influenced by the marijuana of that time. And one in particular, or maybe several, thought it would be an interesting experiment to try and grow her own plant. However, if one were to start growing a plant in her bedroom closet, there would be a moment in time when she would need to transplant that creation to a healthier environment. Luckily mom also had a garden.

The garden was on the only sunny side of the house and could be seen from the front sidewalk. Mom noticed the tall healthy plant as it grew taller than her tomatoes and she watered it faithfully and weeded around it, waiting to see what type of fruit its purple flowers would yield. That is, until Mr. A. from down the street walked by one evening and stopped to talk to mom as she stood in the middle of her garden watering her plants. Mr. A. was a New York City detective and very knowledgable about many subjects.

A few of us kids were at the kitchen window as we watched the plant ripped from the ground in one full swoop and sail over the fence into a wooded area.

Something similar occurred on the Italian island of Incompresso in the book, Among the Zinnias.

Patrice had never learned the slang for marijuana, though she was no stranger to it. Nonna Giovanna had watered it in her garden for one whole season when Patrice and her friend, Daniela, had planted it there, mostly just to see if they could.
          One of the crew on the ferry had introduced them to cannabis when they were in high school. It made them laugh so hard at nothing at all and was a welcome diversion from the mundane life of the island. When he was in port, the crewman stopped at the tavern for a few hours where Patrice and Daniela could find him. He always left them with the crumpled remains at the bottom of the bag, which they’d stuff into a homemade aluminum foil pipe when they found a private place to smoke it safely—usually in Nonna Giovanna’s yard.
          “What’s that you’re burning there, girls?” she’d ask. “Is that the incense again?”
          A few times they collected the seeds that they found among the crushed leaves and planted them between Nonna Giovanna’s zinnias. Patrice hadn’t even noticed the seedling of one fortunate plant that made it past the zinnia buds until Nonna Giovanna casually mentioned it to her.
          They were standing beside one another at the kitchen sink after a large evening meal. The rest of the family was in the yard, enjoying the sunset and the cool breeze from the harbor. Patrice almost dropped the serving dish she was drying. Her hand, wrapped in a striped dishtowel, was sweeping around the edges of the platter as Nonna Giovanna, her hands submerged in soapy water, matter-of-factly said to her, “Your purple flower finally made it.”
          Patrice’s hand stopped mid-wipe. “Purple flower?”
          “You know—the one you and Daniela keep planting. It’s growing. I saw it this morning. Did you know it was going to be so tall? It’s taller than my zinnias.”
          “No kidding?” Patrice suppressed a laugh and felt something like pride.
          And so Nonna Giovanna tended to the marijuana plant, carefully weeding around it and watering it faithfully so as to protect her granddaughter’s creation.
          Until the tavern owner’s grandson happened by one day and asked, “Geez, Nonna Giovanna, do you know what that is, that you’re watering?”

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