Susan's Blog

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sweet Nothing

On this beautiful fall day I felt the sun on my skin like God’s kiss. I felt warmed and loved from the moment I got up. Ned was already in the dining room with the coffeemaker belching out its brew, almost ready. He looked beautiful the way he always does when he first gets up, silver-blond hair raked back casually from his high forehead, sparkly blue eyes warm in recognition and welcome. We had our laptops flipped open together. I read through the emails, some political, some friendly, some business, some flirty, dispensed with them and drank my first cup, one of my favorite things to do all day. We talked here and there about what the day had in store, things we had thought about in the time between saying goodnight and our morning time.

I wasn’t going to exercise because my (intermediate level) belly dance class begins tonight, and I’m pretty sure it will be a hard workout. I went over the few errands I would have to run and decided that these would take me to the part of Boston where Mahoney’s was. I would do some final gardening.

Mahoney’s used to be located in Cambridge, right off Mem Drive. As nurseries go, it was a small one, but an urban gem in the heart of Cambridge. They had a huge supply of shade-loving perennials because their customers were largely urban gardeners, and that means a lot of building-caused shade (pardon my awkward syntax). It was there that I first learned the joys of pulmonaria, heuchera, Jacob’s ladder, turtlehead, windflower, and scented geranium (the perennial kind, not the pelargonium, the ubiquitous, unoriginal annual that everyone calls “geranium.”). I used to look forward to the first Mahoney’s visit of the year the way some look forward to Christmas, or birthdays. You park in the congested little lot, walk around the building, and suddenly, like Dorothy leaving her house and entering Munchkinland, you would be in a land of beauty and delight. You would walk in, surrounded by technicolor flowers, deep blue ceramic pots, arches wound with clematis. The thick, clean smell of leaves and garden dirt would fill you up like a favorite snack.

My favorite part of Mahoney’s, in spite of the wealth of shade flowers, was the full sun perennial section. Rows and rows of all the favorites, nestled together: delphinium, digitalis, peony, poppy. A whole different area for roses. Vines and shrubs, across the dirt road. I built two houses’ gardens from that place and helped many friends start their’s. In a previous post I said I was a writing whore, who will write anything for anyone. I am also a gardening whore: I will create, shop for, plant, and talk about gardens to any of my friends. No charge.

Then, one day two years ago, it all came to an end. Mahoney’s was gone. Apparently, Harvard bought them out (another reason to hate Harvard, along with the fact that 1) their school of government dean has made anti-Israel statements; 2) their grad school rejected me for their PhD program; 3) they rejected Ned from their engineering school even though he had three generations of Harvard on both sides of his family.) Mahoney’s had to leave. They resettled across the river, in Brighton, a neighborhood of Boston, in a much smaller, much less charming spot. They have improved bit by bit, but it is still not nearly as joyful to shop there as it used to be.

Nevertheless, I ended up there today. I wandered through the sun perennials and chose an indigo hyssop; a peach verbascum; a fuscia aster; a white aster; and just for fun and experimentation, a rose mallow. Who knows? As I planted, I had that brimming happiness I get when I have beautiful things around me. I had a little frisson of fear, thinking that somehow I might get reinfected with Poison Ivy, that dreaded b-itch. I tried hard not to scratch my face because of that, or to hitch up my ill-fitted bra (one does not want Poison Ivy on the face, etc.) And I dug and dug. I have now widened the front walk garden so that it is a large arc around the stone path, a melange of purple, pink, fuschia, indigo, and white. No unsightly yellow. No rusty colors, for God’s sake. Jewel tones and pinks. Like my wardrobe. Which is next, God help me. I have bought almost no fall clothes and Ned just complimented me on how disciplined I’ve been in my clothes spending. Alas: Anthropologie is about to have the first fall clothes moved to the discount area in the back, and I hear the call.

Then, lunch with Ruth. The restaurant with the type-o sign. The owner asked me what we were laughing at last week! I was embarrassed, but I said, “Come on, I’ll show you.” I pointed out the funny stuff on his sign. He smiled but a little awkwardly. I couldn’t make him see the humor. In the end, I apologized for offending him and told him we were just silly ladies. Sigh. When Ruth showed up, we had another good laugh, albeit discreetly.

It’s all good.


Not meaning to sound petty, but do you mean type-o sign or “typo” (typographical error) sign?

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 at 7:49 pm

Ha! Yes, I mean “typo!” Not type O, which is my blood type.

— added by Susan Senator on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 at 8:07 pm