Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Doris Weatherford sent me this email, an homily to strength in adversity. I woke up today with that impending doom feeling. Doris must have sensed it like the intuition we women have with our friends and family. There are several situations barking at my shins for attention, but I cannot do anything about most of them until time dispenses the ability to do so.

I call Doris 'Gertie' as in Gertie the Gardener. We both share a love of plants and her yard in Seffner and have traded starts and cuttings of every wild exotic and begonia we each have. I gave her the loving name after seeing her most often with rear in the air, bent over some bush or other thing. She is the one who harbored my mother's ginger plants and a bromeliad with strong, dark green leaves and pink tips that hold water like a cup. The frogs love it. I got starts from her so that I can continue the legacy of growing my mother's plants again. I keep a coleus from Tary's mother in the same way. It's a dark eggplant center with spring green, almost lime green edges. The flower spikes on them are lavender. Doris doesn't know it yet but Tary and Karole have the motherlode of begonias! They have every shape and size and color and whiskered and huge and large and miniscule you could imagine! Doris will love the starts I'll share with her.

You should visit Doris' books. When she isn't gardening, she writes several volumes on women's history. I feel she's the definitive source for all things American women. Here's some of her books and others where she's referrenced currently available through Amazon. Doris fills a big gap in scribing the contributions of women. Some of her titles have been translated into other languages. I love seeing the cover of 'American Women in World War II' in Japanese.

She worked with my mom as one of the founding mothers of the National Organization for Women back in the early 1970s. They merrily filed discrimination law suits, got the first female t.v. anchor in Florida hired, and the first woman police officer - an African American on the Tampa Police Department. They made sure laws and employers were fair to both men and women. They also doled out 'Barefoot and Pregnant' awards to various politicians and heads of states in other countries for their boorish backsliding on women's rights. Even when the government of the United States asked them not to for diplomatic reasons, they packed up the little statues and sent them off. I remember stuffing envelopes at the kitchen table with my dad when I came home on visits.

I'm proud of Gertie. And my mother. I get absolutely giddy when I see them in print, remembered, hear names on NPR or our local public station WMNF which is wonderful alternative radio. You can listen online or tune in if you're in the Tampa Bay area to 88.5 FM. Other friends started it back in the 1970s. I'll talk to you about them sometime.

I made retro curtains for Doris' and Roy's 1950s style living room and have house and yard sat and taken care of their cats. And the racoon that brazenly comes in the kitchen to pilfer food via the cat door has been on my watch list.

So. Doris sends me this email about a daughter who complains of the struggles in her life and doesn't know how to go on. The mother puts three pots on the stove and puts a carrot, an egg and some coffee beans, one item to a pot. She boils them for 20 minutes and puts the carrot, egg and now brown coffee in bowls asking the daughter to look. The carrot, which was stiff and strong on the outside wilted and became mush when exposed to the heat. The egg, which was delicate with a fragile liquid center became hard heart and soul with a thin and easily cracked shell. The coffee beans, on the other hand, changed the water by taking the circumstances of the boiling water and imbuing it with the nature of itself. Mother asks the daughter which one she wanted to be: Carrot, egg or coffee. I got it, Doris. I'm coffee.

4 comments:

Gramercy Galleria said...

The garden descriptions here seem like a further discussion of Oshun from the previous post. And it makes me want to go to the nearest greenhouse and find begonias. I grew a huge angel-wing begonia on the front porch during our second summer here.

Gramercy Galleria said...
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queenlint1 said...

Girfrin! Let me send you some begonia cuttings!! I also have thought about sending you a night blooming cereus which causes people to go mad and silly. But I wonder about the cold nights. She's a leggy girl at 20 plus feet and needs a tree to grow against so she would be unruly in the house. The begonias on the other hand would thrive. LMK if you have a tropical mini-clime in your yard somewhere and I'll send you starts. Now. Datura - angel's trumpets, can be grown in a pot as a specimen plant. I have peach, white and yellow. Gertie has a rose colored one I've been itching to clip into.

D

Gramercy Galleria said...

Somewhere around 25 years ago, MGF Gary gave me part of his night-blooming cereus that he had been given by his Grandmother. When it threatened to take over the house (as I must grow this and things like begonias indoors most of the year)I let it all go EXCEPT for a few cuttings which still thrive. I even have a piece growing in an amethyst vase filled with water! It waves at me everytime I open the refrigerator. Well, anyway, the cuttings have not yet bloomed, but the older plant put out one or two blooms a year. I have seen Datura growing in summer gardens here and a rose-colored one sounds beautiful. Kind of long for a comment isn't it!