I kind of grew up on a farm, my grandparents’ farm, just outside of Browerville, MN. It’s a small town on the prairie in Central Minnesota.
Tom Brady’s mother, Gaylynn Johnson, is from Browerville. My mom and Tom Brady’s mom were cousins. I think Tom Brady and I are also cousins, but we’ve never met.
Tom Brady’s grandfather, Gordon Johnson, used to be my dad’s barber. Yeah, it’s a small world.
Whenever we were living anywhere near Minnesota, my parents would drop me and some of my siblings off at our grandparents’ farm at the beginning of the summer, and pick us up when school started again. For the record, I have four brothers and three sisters. We were free labor in the fields for my grandparents.
Life on the farm was mostly carefree, I guess. There was a lots of stuff to do on the farm, and we were kids. We had a lots of unfocused energy. My grandfather supplied the focus we lacked. We did whatever he told us to do, for as long as he wanted us to do it.
Weed the garden. Pick raspberries. Pick pickles. Haul rocks. Pick more weeds. We worked from sunrise to sunset, then did it all again the next day.
The only real downside to life on the farm was my pedophile uncle. He liked young boys…
I stopped spending summers at the farm when I was in the fifth or sixth grade, but I would spend almost the rest of my life trying to make some sense out of what happened to me way back when, back when I was young.
* * * *
It would be many years before I attempted any gardening again, but I the year I worked as a surgical technician in Elbow Lake, I decided to plant some seeds.
I had saved the seeds from the best bags of weed I smoked for years, and I had collected a gallon sized zip lock bag of seeds. My brother and I raised homing pigeons back then, and homing pigeons do four things really well.
Fly, make babies, eat and poop. We would clean all the crap out of our loft about once a week and over the years we amassed a rather substantial pile of pigeon poop. It made great fertilizer.
In a flash of brilliance, I decided to throw a lots of my marijuana seeds onto the pile of pigeon poop, and in a matter of weeks, I was growing a crop of marijuana in my parents front yard.
I was living in Elbow Lake, right next to an abandoned chicken hatchery. Someone had planted a row of lilac bushes along the side of the hatchery, but there was about a three foot space between the building and the bushes. I tossed the rest of my marijuana seeds in that space, and started watering the lilacs.
In a matter of weeks, I had another garden.
My plants grew like weeds. They were six feet tall in no time. I trimmed and pruned them. I pulled all the male plants so the female plants would produce more resin and increase the potency of my pot crop.
It was really good, and I wouldn’t need to buy any weed for at least a year.
* * * *
I wouldn’t attempt any gardening again for several years, until I married my lovely supermodel wife. Lea loves flowers, but she doesn’t love gardening. And that’s how I became a gardener again.
I have trouble remembering how many gardens I created for Lea at our house in Minneapolis. Four? Five? Something like that. I didn’t know shit about flowers, but I would learn a lots. My teacher was our neighbor, Donna. She was a Master Gardener, and her yard looked like unto the Garden of Eden, only nicer.
Donna gave me a lots of advice. And plants. And more plants. My gardens could never match hers, but Lea loved them, and that was all that mattered.
I kind of miss the gardens sometimes, but not enough to want to go back to them. We have a garden here, too.
* * * *
We moved to Arizona in 2007. We bought our Dream House, and the interior was stunning. But the previous owners had spent next to nothing on the landscaping. It was as boring as a statistics class. I decided to surprise my lovely supermodel wife with new landscaping to give our Dream House a Dream Yard.
Now, this might give you some idea of how stupid I can be. I wanted a complete overhaul of my yard. And I was willing to shell out, say, about eight thousand dollars to accomplish it.
I think the landscape architect I contacted for an estimate is still laughing. We probably ended up spending three times that amount, but the end result was stunning.
Lea loved our backyard. So did I, for that matter. It became the serene retreat I had intended it to be, and it was one of the reasons we were able to sell our house as quickly as we did when we decided to retire to Mexico.
* * * *
Now that I’m a retired guy, I find I have a lots of time on my hands. I spend some of it writing this blog. And rewriting it. But that still leaves huge blocks of unscheduled time in which I have essentially nothing to do.
Our retirement home came equipped with a housekeeper and a couple of gardeners. I do get to spend a few hours a week staying out of their way so they can get their work done. Life probably couldn’t get much easier for me.
Until the day the War of the Marigolds started.
There are a lots of flowers down here in the Lakeside area. During one of our forays to the Lake Chapala Society, I collected about a dozen pods of marigold seeds. We have several potted plants on our backyard patio, and I thought a little splash of color would brighten things up a bit.
So I threw the marigold seeds in a few pots, and just like when I was a marijuana farmer, I had plants in about a week or so. And I was well pleased.
But then a strange thing happened. One of our gardeners, who, as near as I can tell, never bothers to actually pull any weeds in our gardens, decided to pull some of my marigold plants out of the pots on the patio.
I thought it was actually kind of funny because he didn’t pull any of the weeds growing in the pots, just my flowers. And he didn’t even pull all of my baby marigolds, only half of them. I mean, if he thought they were weeds, why not pull them all? So I talked to our jardinero, and asked him in my very bad Spanish to please not do that again.
He understood me, somehow, and I redispersed my baby plants, and all was good once more. However, we have two gardeners. A few days later, Jardinero Numero Dos, came through and for whatever reason decided to pull half my marigold plants, again. And he left all the weeds in the pots, too.
It wasn’t funny the second time.
So I met with the gal that runs our HOA, and this was the solution I came up with. I would assume complete and total responsibility for the plants on our patio and in the carport. And if our goddamn gardeners pulled one more of my marigolds, I would buy a shotgun and shoot them.
That is something my dad would’ve said, so life has come full circle for me. I have essentially become my father. I’m sure he’d get a kick out of that if he were still alive.
The marigolds are doing well now. Jardinero Numero Uno laughs and smiles and tries to teach me Spanish whenever I see him. He asks how we’re doing and takes care of the shrubs and the lawn.
Jardinero Numero Dos just about pisses his pants if he even sees me. I’m going to have to tell him I wasn’t really serious about shooting him.