Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Life and Times of R.W. Kale (pt. 2: Infancy)

26 degrees. That’s what the thermometer was telling me and I believed it. In the short walk from the car to the greenhouse my toes felt more like odd-shaped icebergs than active members of my body. My hands were stuffed in my coat pockets and my hood was flung awkwardly over my head but I still felt the frigid winter air cut through me like a machete cuts through Jell-O (not that that would ever happen). I don’t care how cute Nat King Cole makes him sound, right about then I felt like punching Jack Frost in the face for nipping at my nose.

As I opened the greenhouse door and stepped inside, I was hit by an oh-so-welcome wave of warm air. There was something comforting and hopeful about entering this place that was full of growth and life while the rest of the world was still frozen and waiting impatiently for spring. But as nice as this felt, an odd thought entered my head: Were we cheating nature? Was this allowed? With this thought still in my head I walked over to the tray of Red Winter Kale that I had started just a week ago.

As I peered closely at each of the many small kale sprouts, I noticed something new. These sprouts were little more than an inch tall, but in between each pair of ordinary looking leaves there was a single, new leaf forming. Justin tells me these are called “true leaves”. They had rough, pointed edges and tiny bright red veins. Last week, I could not tell these sprouts apart from any of the other seedlings in the greenhouse, but today with the formation of the third “true leaf”, these infantile plants proclaimed their unique identity as Red Winter Kale. As I continued to stare at these tiny plants, I thought back to the frigid air outside.

Earlier in the day, Justin and I had discussed whether there was a difference between a greenhouse and a nursery. While I'm not sure what the definition of a 'nursery' is in terms of gardening, when I hear the word 'nursery' I think of a place where toddlers and newborn babies are held and talked to and read stories. I imagine a place of safety, a place of warmth, a place where infants are protected from the dangers of the outside world. For a short time, these infants are entirely dependent on the care of others. A nursery is a place of excitement, joy and growth but at the same time it is a place of urgency, responsibility and attentiveness on the part of the caretakers.

We didn’t come to an official conclusion, but as far as I'm concerned, I think the word 'nursery' describes this place pretty well.



justin.owings said...

most sequels suck. not this one. good job austin. this is more beautiful that the first.

Kirsten said...

Agree with Justin wholeheartedly. Well done, sir.