Winter Garden

The plants in the Little North Pole Garden Wally got from my parents for Hanukah are starting to sprout! After all our failed gardening attempts, I'm so glad that something is finally growing. A month or so ago I hid our 1973 printing of The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss so I wouldn't have to read it to Wally anymore. The boy waits and waits and waits while everyone tells him his carrot seed will never grow. Turns out the naysayers were wrong and the boy picks off an enormous carrot in the end. I was afraid that Wally would start to think if he just kept the faith and kept watering it eventually that damn strawberry plant from a year ago would start to sprout. Not to mention the barren carrot tops, the decapitated cactus, the four giant tomato plants on the porch last summer, hold-the tomatoes. The flora in our apartment just don't seem to flourish.

We don't get a lot of light -- East and North exposure. And Manhattan is just like a cave in the winter. But with these little seeds we've been chasing the sun from room to room in the morning, tilting the little egg carton this way and that, propping it up on book shelves, to get every little sliver of light we can. 

I finished and sent off my grad school application this week. Whether or not I get in, I just feel so happy to have actually applied. It feels like chasing down a 14-year-old ghost. I remember at my first round of job interviews when I moved to New York telling every prospective employer that I would most likely be heading to grad school the following year. That was my plan and I didn't want to mislead anyone into thinking I'd be sticking around forever. People told me it was a mistake to mention future plans. I never got any of those jobs. But I never applied to grad school, either. 

Yesterday I got to see some of the kids in the school in Harlem where I'm helping evaluate the jazz education programs. In all the years I've worked in minority education I've never actually met any of the students I write about so I was thrilled to have that opportunity. Plus I've only had experience talking in front of junior high kids from when I was a sub at MS 54 (plus a career-day thing at Alex's school). I was expecting the same blank faces and the sense that  the whole class is rolling their eyes behind your back, but these were 3rd graders and it was a whole different ball game. They were smiling and laughing, their hands kept shooting up, they couldn't wait to talk about their favorite ice cream flavor (which was just a sample question on the survey and didn't need to be answered), and they invited me to their concert in a few weeks. 

So there were the seeds and the application essays and the kids in Harlem this week, plus Wally and I might be in a macaroon commercial. On Saturday we stayed inside all day. Everything was so wonderfully quiet and restful and nice; no plans, no running around, no one coming over, for me no leaving the apartment even. Around 4:30 Alex was preparing to go to the studio and I was just reveling in the peaceful afternoon turning into evening, thinking about what to have for dinner with Wally. I checked my phone for the first time in hours and saw a message from this makeup artist I tangentially know asking if I could come to a studio in Williamsburg. So I ended up abandoning the lovely quiet evening and jumping on the L train to Bedford Avenue with Wally. The crew there did Wally's hair and makeup too, and shot some footage of both of us, then Wally alone. 

It was past Wally's bedtime when got back to Manhattan and we'd eaten a ridiculous amount of macaroons so on the walk home I stopped for a dinner of smoothies and french fries at McDonalds. So much for the cozy evening at home. By phone I talked to Alex briefly after putting Wally to bed. We had a good time, I told him, but I felt sort of funny about the sudden change in direction. Should I have said no to the makeup artist? Like, would it just kill me to have one full quiet day and night at home? There we were living out my pastoral fantasy of a lovely winter day hibernating inside with crayons and books and Viola seeds and hot chocolate and then I go for the grand finale traipsing off to the industrial riverfront of North Brooklyn with a (nearly) five-year-old in tow. 

"We're New Yorkers," said Alex. 

One more thing. Wally accompanied me to the doctor on Tuesday (he was home sick three days this week) and he got to hear the fetal heartbeat. Spoiler alert: I'm 6 months pregnant. Lots of things growing around here.

from The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss Pictures by Crockett Johnson


  1. The flora in our apartment don't usually flourish, either...BUT mil got eric some wheatgrass and it is thriving, even though i kind of ignored it...maybe there is some message there

  2. Your knack for tying ideas together always amazes me! I can't believe you are almost in the third trimester?!!!!!! I have never seen a macaroon commercial.

  3. I haven't. I think eric likes it really tall.

  4. Eli i- thank you. That's so nice to hear; thank you. I've never seen a macaroon commercial either - maybe the whole thing was a scam!

  5. Bearette - Let me know if you try any good wheat grass recipes.


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