Up here in Sonoma on my own trying to set out my garden has not been as much fun as I thought it would be. The favas are infested with aphids, the Lady Bugs I bought are more interested in partying than eating them, and this is the stage where “gardening” is really about shoveling stuff. Turning soil, digging in compost, hauling stuff. After the dreaming stage of planning your garden and imagining the new recipes you’ll create with the produce comes the brute force and ignorance stage of just shoveling shit.
Then it struck me: this would all be so much more fun with a Gardening Girlfriend. I know it would be smarter to latch on to a girlfriend who is at least several years ahead of me in this gardening stuff. But I’d rather find another rank amateur. Then we can laugh at each others’ mistakes rather than becoming annoyed when one of us pulls up the radish shoots thinking they are weeds. Not that I think “Michelle Obama” and “rank amateur” have ever been used in the same sentence. I make no secret of the fact that I think Michelle can probably, not only do, but excel at anything she puts her mind and well-toned arms to. But in all the hoopla about the new White House vegetable garden, I haven’t heard much about Michelle’s experience as a gardener. Therefore, I’m assuming this is all new to her, too.
So Michelle, call me. Here are the Top Ten reasons I think we’d be excellent Gardening Girlfriends.
1. Michelle, you have kids. When you have kids, you can always corral other kids. If you work it right, kids can be a great source of unpaid, enthusiastic and still physically flexible labor. (Which means you can work them day after day without them throwing out their backs.) Michelle, get Sasha, Malia and her pals over here and I’ll supply the shovels.
2. Like me, Michelle, you have a husband who hates beets and, if I’m reading between the news story lines correctly, won’t even let you grow them. Girlfriend, think how much fun we can have secretly growing beets and thinking of subversive ways to get our husbands to eat them.
3. Roadtrip possibilities. At least four times a year, we’ll need to get together and do a garden-themed reconnaissance. Michelle, I’ll take you on a great tour of old California Missions. Many of them have wonderful kitchen gardens laid out in the original Padres’ style. You take me on a nostalgic drive through the rural, agricultural sections of coastal Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. I haven’t been there since I was a kid. We’ll go see Misty of Chincoteague and eat at Stuckey’s.
4. Wine. I’ve got it. We’ll drink it. Lots of it. Don’t worry, those kids will be doing most of the work.
5. You’re very tall, I’m very short. Jobs that are going to kill your back bending over, well, I’m already down there. Together we’ll make this whole thing much easier.
6. Which leaves us much more time to do outdoor Yoga and Pilates. Or weight lifting. You’ve got to tell me how you get those arms.
7. Things like tomatoes, hot peppers and squash that you don’t have the dry heat to grow well, my Sonoma garden can supply by the bushel. I can’t grow salady type things reliably. You do that. We’ll swap. Imagine the salads and Al Fresco lunches.
8. Your husband is the only contemporary American politician my British husband has ever admired. In fact he gave him the supreme (to a Brit) compliment of praising him with a nautical metaphor: he thinks Obama is “a steady hand on the tiller.” Hey, while we’re gardening, the “boys” can go sailing. We’ve got a boat in San Francisco Bay if Barack feels like living dangerously. Or they can opt for the easier “brie and Chardonnay” style sailing of Chesapeake Bay.
9. Dog training. You bring that unruly Portuguese Water Dog over to Two Terrier Vineyards and I have a few terriers who will slap him into shape. A day with Oscar and Lucy and, believe me, Bo will be too tired to drag you around the White House lawn as I saw him do the other night.
10. Did I mention about the wine. . .?
So, Michelle, just drop me a line here. Gardening BFFs 4EVER!