Monday, March 1, 2010

The Life and Times of R.W. Kale (pt. 3: Adolescence)

“Just toss ‘em in the water! They’ll learn how to swim quick enough.”

Praise God that’s not how my parents taught me to swim, but the method seems to have been a popular one back in the day. What exact day that was I’m not quite sure, but I know that every person who has advocated for the “sink or swim” aquatic training program has had more wrinkles than an elephant and has also done a lot of walking up hill both ways in bare feet. That’s not to say that these old folks didn’t turn out to be great swimmers or that all that hill walking didn’t build some mighty fine character, but if I am going to be honest (and I am), I am glad that I had my inflatable floaties for my first solo swim. I’m not too fond of the drowning sensation.

Spring is coming quickly but the chill winter air still wants to linger for a bit longer. As Justin and I walk into the greenhouse the warm air still feels like a wave of comfort. Spring is in sight, but it’s being painfully slow in its approach. Looking around it becomes apparent that despite the weather outside, everything is rapidly growing with the protection of thick glass walls and a heating unit. The greenhouse is saturated with so many shades of (oddly enough) green. Trays upon trays of quickly growing leafy plants cover the shelves. The sheer quantity of sprouting life fascinates me and for a moment I simply stand in proud awe and joy at what I’ve helped to nurture.

“Alright, so first we need to take all of the trays outside.” My joy and fascination quickly float away as Justin’s words are processed in my brain. What was I just saying? Oh yeah, something about “sheer quantity” and “joy and awe”. Well great. What I am hearing is that I have to carry every bit of that “sheer quantity” outside only to carry it right back inside after a few hours. This does not make sense to me. Justin tells me that this is called “hardening off” the plants. “We do this to get the plants used to the weather.” This still does not make sense to me. Why can’t we just keep them in the greenhouse until spring gets a bit closer and then stick ‘em in the ground? Justin tells me that if the plants are not hardened off, the shock of being permanently planted in the chill ground after being in the sheltered warmth of the greenhouse could cause them to wilt or potentially die. “They might do alright, but it would be an added risk.”

In my head I’m saying, “Just stick ‘em in the ground! They’ll learn to grow quick enough.” I think I might have more in common with those wrinkled old timers than I thought. But I suppose patience and risk aversion make for good parenting.

I guess I’ll air up the floaties.

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