Alex and Max headed out, with much thumping, bumping, jangling of skis and each other. The silence almost throbbed through the apartment once they were gone.
She looked around, amazed at the calm. They had been pumped to finally head out for their first ski-trek of the season. Winter had come late to the northeast this year, and they had postponed this mini-vacation twice due to poor snow coverage.
It had been sweet of them to try to cajole her into coming along, but really, she knew she’d enjoy the peace and tranquility here. A long weekend with nothing but planting and books was just what she needed. For today, she likely wouldn’t even turn on the radio, just let the silence envelop her, only to be broken by the whistle of the tea kettle, or the whisper of a turning page.
She decided to brew a cup of tea, just her regular morning blend, black with a dash of milk to soften it. Taking the steaming mug into the bedroom, she set about dumping the used soil out of her pots, and into the green recycle bin that the guys would take outside for her when they returned Monday. The fresh soil sat in a blue bin. This she had dug out of the pile of soil that was still partly unfrozen in the back corner of their little yard. It was communal space, but the other residents of the building didn’t mind her little “dirt project”.
She even had a compost bin set up for everyone to contribute to, which reduced the trash load from the building and enriched her soil pile. Glad that she had two strong men to heft the containers for her, she’d taken advantage of the mild weather a few weeks ago, and had Alex bring up a fresh bin of soil, just for this purpose.
As the soil heated slowly to room temperature, it gave off a delightfully soft, loamy smell. As far as she was concerned, they were living an enriching, symbiotic relationship, she and her mini garden. The plants took in her breath, and gave off pure clean air in exchange. The bright greens, almost glowing under the grow lights, never failed to cheer her up in these colorless winter months.
And not having to pay top dollar at the grocery store for winter-grown greens didn’t hurt, either!
The hours blended together and passed her by as she scrubbed her pots, added peat moss to her composted earth, and re-filled the pots with the fresh mix. Swiping her dirty hand across a sweaty brow, she decided to take a break. It was full-dark now, but she needed a breath of outside air. Quickly, she rinsed off, and grabbing her coat, headed down the freight elevator.
Outside the air was snappy with cold. Each breath seemed to pierce her lungs with it, yet the stars gleaming overhead were incredibly bright and twinkling. Each exhalation let a cloud of breath stream from her and out to the cosmos. How wonderful that on such a wickedly cold night, she would be planting seeds for a far-distant warmth.
Turning her collar up against the chill, she shoved her hands deep into her pockets. She felt something in her left pocket, and pulled out the small square of paper.
OH! Mr. Wu’s “magic” seeds! She’d forgotten all about them! Keeping them in the palm of her hand, she turned to return to the warmth inside.
“There, that outta do it,” she murmured to herself. Nestled in the dark, warm soil were three varieties of tomatoes, hot peppers, marigolds, and sweet peppers. A pair of large peat pots at the end of her growing tray contained the mysterious seeds that Mr. Wu had sent. She tossed her remaining seed packs onto the top of her compost bin, not noticing that Mr. Wu’s hastily made packet opened, spilling the remaining 6 seeds into the bin.
She stretched, yawning hugely. She’d had a wonderful day. First in the prep work, then a lovely quiet lunch reading in the chair that got the mid-day light, curled up like a cat in the streaming sunshine. After a brief nap in that same chair, she’d gotten all her seeds started.
It would only be a matter of days before the first of the sprouts would pierce the soil, and begin their journey from seed to sprout to plant, eventually bearing fruits that would feed her, and her roomies, throughout the summer.
With any luck, her yield this year would allow her enough extra tomatoes to put up a few batches of salsa.
With that last happy thought in her head, she took a long hot shower, thankful that there were no guys around so she could just strip her grimy clothing in her bedroom and pad naked from her room to the shower, and back.
Towelling off her hair, she noted the seeds still splayed on the top of her “plantable” compost bin. Ah well, she would get them picked up in the morning. Slipping between her flannel sheets, she read until the words began to blur on the page. Eyelids fluttering closed, and yawning widely, she stuffed a bookmark between the pages. Slipping further into her warm nest of blankets, she popped her light off, and fell quickly to sleep.
In the dark of the room, inside the bin of rich loamy soil, something stirred to life. Six seeds began corkscrewing roots into the nutrient-rich loam, while thin slivers of green stem began driving upwards.
She slept on, unaware.