I made space for him between the herbs awaiting transplant into their new home and my own legs that stretched out in the space on the floor in front of the stove. For the first few moments, he perched and watched the back of forth as I moved the dirt out of the pot and onto the pink tissue paper that I hoped would hold the overflow.
Pressing some of the soil into his hand, I was surprised at his reticence. He shook his head. “No.” A simple response, but one that I listened to. I began talking to him, explaining what I was doing with the herbs we’d purchased earlier that morning on our family reset day–a day I take off from school to breathe a bit and spend the time with E.
“Dirt,” I explained, holding out a hardened black ball and rubbing it between my fingers. As it dissolved, he learned forward and I held out another. His curiosity got the best of him and, with his ever lengthening fingers, he reached and did the same.
I turned the thyme out of its plastic carrier, the plastic crackling and complaining as I set it aside, breaking up the roots and smoothing out a place in the center of the planter I’d decided to revive after a not-so-productive stint last summer. Repeating the same steps with the basil and rosemary, E scooted closer to the plants with each successive splitting of roots and pressing into the soil until his hands were moving with mine.
We finished, filing in the sides with the overflow of soil on the paper. It had been a whim: for only $2 per plant, why not purchase the herbs and attempt to get something growing one more time? Since moving to Boston, I’ve tried to grow things, and have had a good amount of success with vegetables a few years ago. I also have a jade plant that belonged to my grandmother that I inherited that rests in the kitchen, centering the space and providing peace. Other than that, though, I’ve not planted anything more.
But I want to. And I have come to understand that I want E to want to, also. I’ve looked longingly at the chain link fence that separates my house and my neighbors’ house; it would be wonderful for running a string of sweet peas (though it’s probably too late now, but maybe next year). I could, perhaps, get a tomato plant or two and train them up the sides of our tiny porch this summer. I’m remembering how much I loved planning and planting, how peaceful it was to water, to weed, to eat ripe vegetables right from the vine.
His hands,working through this tiny pot with my hands, as I dream of a garden and bless this moment.