Sunday, March 2, 2008

Transplant Shock.

Just in under the wire here at ANYLF: 11:22 makes it still today, March 2.

The particulars: A high of 64, a low of 31. More sunshine than I was sure what to do with, which meant mainly a lot of coffee and some porch sitting with the dog, who fell asleep in the sun almost right away. She's accustomed to a morning nap basically upon waking up. Hers is the kind of gig I need to pursue for myself.

Was it warm today? It was warm. Don't be alarmed: We'll snap cold and gray soon, no problem. For today, though, it was warm. And it was the kind of day the city council would want to have you in town for. See the way the sunlight glints off our revitalized downtown? We revitalized that, and that, and that. Oh, and that. Over there. In the sunlight.

I helped a friend transplant two azaleas this afternoon, huge things that were snugged up against the side of his concrete porch, such that semi-abstract concepts like, oh, I don't know, long-handled-shovel-based leverage were all but out of the question. First one came out in about half an hour. The second one took the next two. If I'd known I needed to be physically, corporeally in the hole with the thing, arms wrapped around what root ball was left, heaving myself into what will be the sleep of the just this evening, I would have started there. These were plants the size of low bookshelves. Sun bottoming out in the sky by the time we were done. Cold beer in clear bottles. Mud in my ear. That catch in my chest that comes with being outside all day. Like I'm allergic to the world. Which, hell, I may be. Would not make any damn difference.

No waxing nostalgic for something that happened six hours ago. First and foremost, we need rain, or else it won't matter how big that root ball was. But so long as we're here: When I was a kid, planting and transplanting was something just below the eucharistic in my family. Big deep holes for new trees, new shrubs, any move of any plant that needed any luck. Here: Dig a hole about half again as big as the root ball of the plant in question. Fill the hole halfway with water. Drop the plant down in there, fill in about half the dirt, and get dirty— crush up the soil as it goes back in. No air pockets. Water again, make a mud slurry, and then fill the thing in the rest of the way. Last, make a ring (of soil) around the plant to hold water.

For transplants, dig out as big a root ball as you can even imagine lifting.

There's maybe a metaphor in all this, but I'll take a page from the dog, which is to say, given the choice, let's just take a nap on the porch, and sort all this out some other time.

It was spring today. There's a lot else to be said, but for now, we can start there.

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