Tuesday, August 04, 2009

pots of flowers

Can anyone truly say “I am not at all like my mother?

I used to say it – without judgment; I just thought it was obvious. My tastes, my habits, my disposition. My insecurities, my appearance, my pleasures. Nothing like hers. I wondered why this would be so, given that, after all, she was (and is) my mother. Maybe, I reasoned, it was because I was raised by my grandparents in the first years of my life. And pretty much by myself once I turned thirteen. That gave her just a small window of influence.

Still, as I get ready for my evening work at the shop on the corner (thinking that it is really quite tedious to go out again at the end of a long day), I remember that my mother, too, picked up odd jobs late in life to supplement her income. It encroached on her free time and it sometimes made her cranky, but it also emboldened her in ways that would take too long to describe.

One could say that being able to (finally) afford to purchase an iPhone yesterday was similarly emboldening (in ways that would take too long to describe).

When I moved to the States from Poland during my university years, I found that getting extra work here was possibly the biggest difference between everyday life there and everyday life here. People didn’t (and I would guess still don’t) get part time filler work in Poland. It wasn’t the custom then to boost your income by filling out an application at a local shop around the corner.

Of course, there is work and there is work. Biking back today from the campus area I passed the community gardens at Shorewood. Two people worked, picking out the weeds of late summer (which are always more noxious than weeds of spring). A handful stood to the side chatting.


I have noticed that many plots in Madison’s community gardens are tended by people who sound like they may be non native to this town. I thought how in Poland, many city people loved tending small plots just beyond the urban centers.

Like my mother, I was hardworking in the yard when I had a yard. And like her, I closed the chapter of yardwork and am unlikely to reopen it. The garden, like the suburban house, overwhelmed me.

Let me pause here. I have my pots of flowers on the balcony to water before I go off to my evening work. Come to think of it, my mother never kept pots of flowers on her balcony.