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July 22, 2009

Two Minutes

Here in the South, gardening is an obsession. For women who are stay-at-home, it's almost an expectation: No worthy Southern Woman would be without some sort of garden at her home. The origin of the term "Garden Home" came somewhere, and my guess it originated in the South.

I heard about this "gardening" thing before moving here. I read Steel Magnolias and To Kill a Mocking Bird: ladies garden because it was expected they would garden. Begrudgingly, I've given this a try with no previous experience in Oklahoma save a few marigolds that would come back year after year no matter what was done to their soil.

Frankie posed a major problem to my ambitions of becoming a Southern Lady With A Garden. I did put in a blueberry bush and a raspberry bush in the backyard but Frankie ate them both. With Frankie, backyard gardening looked difficult if not impossible. I didn't want to do a garden in view of my neighbors lest they find out that not only am I a total failure in the "manners" department but I rate an "F" in gardening too.

After much consideration, I decided on a garden on the side of the house next to Frankie's fence. Last year I managed three yellow squash plants and three zucchini squash plants that produced a total of eight squashes before they were totally destroyed by bugs. Perhaps wanting to be an organic gardener was reaching too high.

So this year, I went back to basics. I dug up two feet deep worth of Alabama clay (mixed with rocks) from my designated garden area. The clay/rock dirt was put into Frankie's hole that went under my Air Conditioning Unit. I figured if it took me three weeks to dig 2 feet by 10 feet of the "hard as rock" stuff then it may take Frankie more than an hour to get under my AC unit. So far both projects were successful. I had a nicely dug out area for my garden and Frankie hasn't dug under my AC unit (yet) this year.

It's true what they say about soil: just go buy it at Lowe's Home Store, it's much better than what is in your yard for gardening. So far, after one month of gardening, I've done so good that I have harvested one cucumber.

Frankie has done better.

Next to his outdoor house and on the other side of the fence, a squash plant sprouted without me planting a seed and is outgrowing all the plants in my garden. I kid Frankie that since I didn't plant it, it must be his squash plant. Frankie just looks at me. He doesn't speak English.

Frankie's squash plant grew double the size of all of my plants in half the time. I am guessing it's all the degrading Frankie poop that washes from under the porch (where he hangs out all day) and fertilizes his plant into a frenzy. I've taken the hint and last week started putting all the Frankie poop I can find into my garden.

Although my garden is on the other side of the fence from Frankie, there is the occasional cucumber vine that dips down too low on Frankie's side that he can get a bite out if it. I do my best to keep the vines away from Frankie's reach but he is a clever tortoise. There have been losses. He has developed a taste for garden plants.

Like on the way to a walk he will try to get a bite out of the "Frankie Squash Plant" as he passes through the gate. The plant survived two Frankie attempts to eat it but as I was right by his side, Frankie had too little time to eat much.

Little did I know.

So Frankie and I are coming back from a walk and he is heading toward the gate to the back yard. I needed to set his skateboard and my water bottle down in the garage which I figured would take me less than a minute and then less than another minute to catch up with Frankie and lead him safely into the yard past my garden.

In the first few seconds as I unlocked the garage door, I saw that Frankie was a good boy and passed my garden up (to my great surprise) and instead started to graze the grass just four feet from the gate. I go inside to put down supplies. I take just an extra moment to take off my big Southern Floppy Hat (yeah, I got one of those). I leave the garage, lock the door and head up to the gate.

Two minutes. Maybe even just 100 seconds.

There was no more Frankie Squash Plant.

Gone, zilch, nada. Frankie has finished a squash plant that was about a foot tall and two feet wide in less than two minutes.

Frankie didn't even turn around to say "sorry," or "tough luck," or "what nut would plant a squash plant next to my path to the back yard!"

It was Frankie's plant. I guess he could do with it what he wanted.

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