Gary Rinsem

It's my fault, I let them die

Life goes on, but I'm sad about it.

The asparagus ferns in the triangle planter under the mailbox have been special to me since I planted them in 1988. Now they're dead and it's my own fault. It sucks, they were one of the last bits of my life that remained here.

It begins a month or so before Mother's Day 1975. It was my second year of high school and I was just getting accustomed to having a car of my own. It let me do all manner of new and fun things in life. This story is one that couldn't have happened otherwise.

I drove across town to buy expensive wood really cheap. I drove all over searching for a couple pieces of clear Plexiglas that would work, and fit in my car for the ride home. In shop class I made two terrariums as Mother's Day gifts for my mother and my sister. The craftsmanship was fine and they looked OK, but the design was bad. They'd fall apart if not very careful.

Back to needing my car for this story. I drove to all three of the big nurseries in town, learning how to plant a terrarium by asking questions and looking at plants. A very nice woman realized that I was overwhelmed. She offered to do it for me at no cost, except the materials. I returned and picked them up the day before Mother's Day. Mom and Sue at least acted like the gift was nice. They both kept them alive for quite awhile.

Years later they each gave me giant potted asparagus ferns, right after I moved into this house. The lady planted my terrariums with plants that soon outgrew the table top box. Mom and Sue had each put theirs in many pots and decided to give some back to me.

The planter had ugly scraggly old wrong for the location plants in it. I removed over a foot of rancid dirt and used bags of mix from the same nursery, to make a bed for those ferns. For 32 years I've nursed them. I wish I had a dollar for every time I sat on the porch holding the hose to water them, and another dollar for each time they were pruned or weeded.

I've taken care of those plants for another 32 years, 45 years since buying them. Last summer I had no interest in it. They died without water. The front yard needed work and today a crew came to clean it up. I just noticed the planter, they did a fine job of removing all that dead growth. There's two little green stalks surviving. I should water them, but I won't. I'll wish I did a year from now when the planter could be, but isn't full of Sue and Mom's asparagus ferns.