She tamped the soil over the seedlings, then watered them copiously. Her roommates always made fun of her for starting her plants early, but they never seemed to laugh so much when her little bedroom garden yielded tasty greens in mid-winter, or the first tomato’s of the season…in June.
She’d set up the grow-system on the only open wall, near her bed, beside her dresser. The dresser top was clear now, ready to hold her watering can, the fertilizer that helped them grow strong, twine, spare light bulbs, and all the other paraphernalia she needed to make her little garden grow.
It was almost time to harvest the last batch of greens. Just enough for one last winter salad, she mused, smiling over her little pots. And just in time to start her tomatoes.
Nevermind that it was still Mid-Winter, in just a few short days it would be Imbolc, February 2nd, St. Brigid’s Day. In pagan mythology, today marked the beginning of the spring season, when the lambs began lactating; when winter was forced to begin turning away from the land. Snow storms would still lash the people, but the back of the Winter would be broken.
She always started her tomato’s this day, although it would be months before she could set them outside in her garden. Yet the very act of setting seeds to soil was a sacred act of faith. The moon was waxing, beginning it’s journey towards wholeness-the perfect conjunction of pagan signs for planting.
She threaded her way through the marketplace. So many little shops she kept meaning to explore some day. Today was not the day, however. Winter was breathing a frigid breath across the City, and it was freezing. She was headed to the Herbalist shop to get some loose green tea, and some ginger root. She would make a lovely tisane from it, to chase away the chill of the day. Plus the ginger smelled divine simmering on the stove top.
She stepped into the dimly lit shop. Tea and bright light were not a good combination, she knew. And it was always so soothing to step in here and smell the scents that perfumed the air. Peppermint and spearmint and cardamom wafted to her as she walked towards the back of the shop.
Mr. Wu stepped from behind the curtain at her approach. He was a wizened man who looked to be somewhere between 100 and 1,000 years old. His face was a roadmap of life-experiences. He was funny, and charming, wise in the ways of the healing arts, and a Master of Kung Fu.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Wu.” She couldn’t stop herself from bobbing in a short bow. She hoped it didn’t insult him, but showed him the deep respect she felt for him.
“Good afternoon, Leeza.” His voice was rich like dark honey, and dark like mahogany. His words were accented but crisply spoken. She melted a little inside when he spoke. “How my I be of assistance to you today, little one?”
She smiled at him. Truly he was one of her favorite people. She told him of the tisane she wanted to concoct. He suggested adding lemon grass to sweeten the drink, and a generous dollop of honey.
“For the pot,” he cautioned, one gnarled finger pointing at her admonishingly. “Not for the cup.”
She grinned. She nodded.
“Has your gardening begun yet?” He asked her as he wrapped up the ginger root in thick butchers paper.
“Not yet. Soon, and I can hardly wait. The last of my lettuces will be done this week.”
He nodded. She was a good student, though he doubted she understood fully that he had been training her subtly all these years. She understood much. Not enough, but time was the most effective cure for that.
She watched him head behind the silk curtain. She watched the dragon woven into the fabric writhe as if it were alive as the fabric settled into place. In a moment he was back with a small white packet in his hand.
“Seeds.” He said, pressing the packet into her palm. “They have much magic in them. Plant just one or two of them, for you may not enjoy what you will harvest from them.”
He would not tell her what kind of seeds they were, just reiterated for her to only plant one or two. She nodded, and tucked the seeds into her coat pocket. She paid for her tea and ginger, and reluctantly headed off into the cold afternoon.
Her roommates had enjoyed the last Winter Salad, and sat sipping the lemon-ginger tea she had brewed.
“Great stuff, seriously. It’s been kinda cool that we didn’t have t buy lettuce all winter. $5 bucks a head for lettuce? Not when we have the “urban gardener” living with us!” Max burped loudly.
“scuse YOU!” Alex punched Max on the shoulder as the two men play-tussled. She ignored them. Typical meal time with the brat brothers! Still, she glowed with their praise, beaming inside.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come with us Leeza?”
Tussling done, she looked up at Alex.
“No, thanks. I’d rather stay here and read. You can go enjoy your ski weekend and not feel guilty. Not that you will, the second that you find some little lonely ski bunny!”
“Which reminds me,” and she aimed a pointed look at Max. “I want the rest of my ginger root pu back in the fridge, you pervert!”
Max grinned, unrepentant.
“You’ve never lived until you’ve had a peeled ginger-root shoved up your hiney,” he said with a laugh.
“Actually, I’ve lived just fine without that. So, thanks, but I’ll pass. I’ll save those little perversions for you, you sick bastard,” and she laughed. She had no problem with Max being a Dom, nor for any of his ‘toys’…though it was far and away from how she enjoyed having sex.
Though she wasn’t opposed to a bit of soft bondage now and again. And not that she’d ever share that with Max, coz he’d never let her live it down.
No, they worked well as roommates, had since co-ed college days. They had never hooked up and that was fine with them all. Alex winked at her.
“I think we should gang up on him, and let him get a taste of his own medicine,” he suggested.
“Yeah, go ahead, try that.”
Leeza laughed, and headed back to the kitchen. “Great offer, but once again, I’ll pass.”
“Yeah, and good on you for being so smart.” Alex whisked the dishes out of her hand. “You cooked, we clean up. Go, play with your plants. I know you’re dying to start planting. ”
He gave her a nudge with one shoulder, while scowling at his brother. “C’mon dickhead, let’s get this show on the road. Clean up, pack up, head out to ski country!”
Laughing at their antics, and with a silent prayer that they not break any of her dishes, she headed off to her bedroom.