Friday, August 27, 2010


Here is my garden, as of about a month ago. The snap pea vines, which grew to over 6 feet, were gone by then, and so were the lettuces, but if you can imagine them in the middle there you'll have a pretty good idea of the whole shebang.

It's looking a little more ragged and empty these days. The sunflowers are all bloomed little blossoms are blossoming off the side of the stem while the big old droopy first growth sags over at the top. Most of the carrots are picked--turns out the Mermaid Girl loves them beyond all other vegetables, and, flattered, I've been packing them in her camp lunches all week. The zucchini doesn't seem to be amounting to much, despite everyone's dire predictions that I'd have more than I knew what to do with. It appears to have some kind of virus. And there's some corn, but I'm not sure if I planted enough for it to take. But there are still the tomatoes (most of them) to go. It's true, what they say about homegrown tomatoes. They are like a drug. Sometimes I just go out and stick my head in the plants and breathe in.

Then there were the potatoes. I hadn't even planned on planting potatoes; it seemed too mysterious and dirty. Not sexy dirty, but literally dirty. I mean, even when you buy potatoes in the store, they're often covered in dirt; how much yuckier would it be to actually grow them yourself? I think I've mentioned I don't even really like dirt that much. Plus there were all these warnings about where to plant them, and how to plant them, and weird diseases and such, and it all seemed like too much trouble.

But back in the spring, when I went to pick up the dirt from that woman at my synagogue, just as I was leaving she literally tossed a couple of little plants at me, saying, "Here, want to try a couple of potatoes?" So I shrugged and thanked her and took them, and when I shoveled all the dirt into my garden I stuck them in; why not? Then a few days later, I saw a potato I'd bought-- a supermarket one, not even organic--was too shriveled to eat and was sprouting like crazy, so I stuck it in the ground next to the other potato plants. Again: what the heck?

The plants grew and grew-- you can see them in the photo up there, up front, second from the right, just left of the zucchinis--but the thing about potatoes is that you never can tell what's happening underground, and if you dig around to try to find out, you could mess up the whole root structure. I had one false start when I dug a little and found what I at first thought was a real grown potato and then thought was maybe the seed potato, so after that I just left it alone.

Until one hot day late last month, when I was spraying the Mermaid Girl (who hasn't liked that name for years and now says she wishes she'd picked another one) and her friend on the trampoline, and I stepped backward onto a rock. Only it wasn't a rock; it was a HUGE purple potato. So once more I dug, filled with hope despite myself, and this is what I found:

That's my hand, over on the right: a grownup-size hand, about six or seven inches from fingertip to wrist. So: some substantial potatoes, there.

Gardening metaphors are so easy that they feel cheap, but it's true: you can never tell what's growing underground, out of sight. I've been out of sight of this blog all summer, and I wish I had something as substantial as these potatoes to show for it, but mostly I just have a summer. And a garden.

And a kid who turns ten years old tomorrow. Tomorrow!

A really statistically abnormal bunch of my friends have become dog-owners this year, and it's no coincidence that they all have kids my kid's age (or sometimes older). When I asked, rather plaintively, WHY, I got variations on the same answer: "So there will be SOMEONE who's happy to see me when I come home."

I'm a hard-core non-dog person, so maybe that's why I planted a garden this summer: somewhere on the grounds of this house, there is some living being that responds at least kind of predictably to the nurturing I put into it.

There's a song I've been singing to myself all summer, from a musical I love, "The Fantasticks". It starts out "Plant a radish, get a radish, never any doubt/ that's why I love vegetables, you know what you're about!" and goes on to complain that while vegetables are dependable, "With children/ It's bewilderin'/You don't know until the seed is nearly grown/Just what you've sown."

I love my kid to pieces, RW and I both do, and there are several signs that what we've sown is growing up into an excellent person. But at almost-ten, she's already moving into her own world. Less and less of who she is, who she will become, has to do with us, and what we do or don't do.

One thing is for sure, though: the person she is growing into, that person is an intensely private person. Not someone who would be happy to think of her life and times being splashed all over the Interwebs, even pseudonymously. That's the kind of characteristic that you can cutesify and more or less ignore in a four-year-old. In a ten-year-old? Not so much. I've seldom asked her permission to write about her in this space, partly, I'm ashamed to say, because especially as she got older I was generally sure the answer would be a resounding negative. So I'm thinking this is a pretty good time to close up shop, at least for now, on Booland, which hasn't really been Booland (as she hasn't been called Boo) for some years now. It's not the only reason, but it's a big one.

Like I said, gardening metaphors are easy; really, you can compare *anything* to planting a seed. When I started this blog, over six years ago, I didn't know what I was planting: just that I needed to write, and I needed community. And blogging has given me what I hoped for, and more. I've been writing for six years, more-or-less (less, these days...) regularly. And I have more friends in the computer than I can count. If you're reading this, you're probably one of them, and I'm more grateful to you than I can say.

That's really the end of this post. The rest of this is totally naval-gazey and skippable, unless you are deeply interested in other people's internal worriting:

As I write this post, I'm imagining the "oh-no-not-another-one" dread it's inspiring among the few readers still following. I've felt that same sinking feeling, reading the final posts of one favorite blogger after another, these past few years. So I have this urge to apologize: I'm sorry! I could well start blogging again, sometime! Maybe even soon! A relative recently observed that I'm other-directed: I need feedback, I need to share, I don't write (or live) well in isolation. And I think that's true. But I also think that the feedback, the praise, the comment-mongering, can be a drug, more addictive and yet less satisfying than the smell of tomato plants.

Here's what I mean: a week or two ago, I wrote a post, or I mean a "note," on Facebook. It was just something I wrote, and then I posted it. And some people commented to say they liked it. And the next day, when I sat down to write something else, there was a little imp, a very familiar little imp, in the back of my brain, chattering under the words I was trying to write: "Will they like this? Will they? Will they like it more than yesterday's? Maybe they won't like it as much. Maybe they'll like it more! Maybe they'll LOVE it! I wonder if they will. Maybe they'll hate it. Maybe no one will comment at all. I wonder if they'll like it?"

I know that little imp, way too well. I've fed her copiously for the past six years. And I think I need to give her a rest for a while. I need to figure out a way to balance the other-directedness, which is as much a part of me as my hair and eyes, with the praise-junkie-ness, which is a Problem. So it's really not just respecting my kid's privacy, and not just concerns about my own anonymity and privacy (which has also been compromised, probably inevitably after six years but still a cause for some alarm), and not just that the blog world has changed: it's not her, or them. It's me.

So, Booland is done, at least for now. But I'll be around: on Facebook, and following other blogs (because that's one addiction I just can't quit), and, you know, in the Real World too. So if you're a lurker, and you want to stay in touch, comment or email me: [careful of the spelling; there's no "e" in the middle.]

And I'll see you in the ether. Or, well, elsewhere.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wordgarden. I've enjoyed being a reader. I'm glad you've found an ending here that works for you.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Stupid Blogger just ate my stupid comment, which is some sort of sad metaphor for something, probably involving potatoes. Bah. So, once again, with feeling, and also with a just-in-case round of ctrl-c'ing:

I will miss your voice an awful lot out here on these increasingly echoey internets, but I'm glad you're making the choice that gives you what you need. Thanks for all the tending you've done for this little bloggy community over the years (both generally and to me in particular).

(Also, "hard-core non-dog person" made me giggle. We need a secret handshake, or some sort of "Solidarity NOW" type of chant, us hard-core non-dog persons.)

Take care, elswhere. Hope to see you around the ether.

1:27 PM  
Blogger susan said...

This is a beautiful wrap-up post, and I will be happily envisioning you, your garden, RW, and MG.....and I'll be missing you, too. And I take comfort in knowing a few other places on the internet where I'm likely to run into you.

But gosh, I'll miss you. Your blog was one of the blogs that made me think, "hey, I could do that, too." Thanks for sharing your words, and your stories.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Drinne said...

Thank you for writing that you were ending the blog so we don't just wonder - its been a nice "not to pushy" way to be back in touch with you after all this time. I hope the potatoes taste great!

I think an accurate metaphor in your garden is about how much we might overthink things and how sometimes you might need to just throw a few things into the ground to see how it works out.

We don't do enough of that as we get older, we seem to prefer knowing exactly what to do.

I hope you keep writing though, somewhere because it's important to you, not just for other people, because I'm learning the hard way how easy it is to lose the knack of something you love when you stay away from it a long time.

You're still an excellent writer.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Arwen said...

I'm sorry to see Booland go. I obviously understand (my blog hasn't quite gotten to the wrap-up post yet...)

I know you've got other places for creative output you're loving, but I am sure glad I got to know you while you were here!

(And also that you moved here.)

8:32 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

I haven't read for that long, but will miss you! Thanks for the laughs. :)

5:44 PM  
Blogger Hugh said...

Els, your conclusion left me in tears. Thank you for the gift of your blog. Much love, Alice.

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love ya and glad i'll get to keep up IRL. (still sad though to know I"ll have to stop clicking your link). kisses and hugs from us all.

the other lise and co.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

I'm glad you're making the choice that gives you what you need. Thanks for all the tending you've done for this little bloggy community over the years (both generally and to me in particular).

12:44 AM  
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