Of Movies, Fantasies and Gardens

Meryl Streep picking tomatoes in It’s Complicated (pic. courtesy imdb.com)

‘It’s Complicated’ is one of my favorite movies of all time. I love so many things about it; Meryl Streep: I wonder if there’s anything left to say in praise of her, the food scenes that stay in your mind long after the movie is over, the decor, the romance, the camaraderie, the humor (Alec Baldwin is such a riot), the list is endless! One of my favorite scenes is the one where Meryl Streep is walking in her beautiful kitchen garden wearing a hat and picking tomatoes and sensuously savoring their aroma. I just can’t have enough of the movie.

A little over a year ago, I was joking with a friend that like Meryl Streep in the movie, I’d love to be a baker with a fabulous house in California, smelling fresh tomatoes as I pluck them. In short, I would love to have everything she does in the movie, with the exception of the divorce.

I grew up passively watching my parents garden everyday, come rain or shine. I could never understand why my dad had to water our trees and plants despite a mild drizzle, when he would hold the hose with one hand and an umbrella with another, plain silly right? My mom, sometimes arranged flowers from our garden in a vase, which I found amusing because she used hibiscus (in my ‘little girl’ mind I thought roses and dahlias were the only flowers worthy of arranging in a vase). Will suffice to say that gardening was never my thing, I never even had potted plants for most part of the ten odd years, when I lived in apartments after I got married. Plants meant having to spend that additional amount of time watering and caring for them and since both my husband and I were working, we had no time for it.

Then one fine day, on a whim I bought 12 plants from a horticulture exhibition. I had grand plans of nurturing these for the house that we were building, so we could have some color and greenery as soon as moved in. After the first day of watering and feeling zealously protective of them, I could never find time to water them (my husband did).  Three to four months later, almost all of them had dried up. No it wasn’t the lack of watering (my poor husband, did that very diligently), but the harsh, direct sun on the roof (we lived in a penthouse) that killed all the plants. This provided Dave, my husband, the chance of a lifetime to lecture me on how I should let things happen organically. Instead of buying these plants before we moved in to our own house, I should have waited till we moved into our house, gotten comfortable with my schedule there and then slowly invested my time and money in a garden after testing if I could sustain my interest and time on one. Of course I hated him for him for making me feel lousier than I already was. But maybe the message wasn’t lost on me.

I actually did just that in my new house.  I took baby steps. Four months after we moved into our own house I got two 4×4 square foot gardens set up by Hyderabad Goes Green to grow vegetables.  In a few months, I was reaping tomatoes, green chillies, and methi.

The first harvest at my 4×4 square foot gardens

It’s uncanny how sometimes things you have said as a joke come true. Makes you want to be careful what you say. While I don’t live in Calfornia (yet), I am proud of my small duplex house in Mallampet village. I bake a lot more than I used to (not professionally yet), thanks to my built-in oven. And a year after we moved into our home, every morning,  I walk into my 150-square-yard garden that now includes a lawn, surrounded by smaller patches of brinjal, okra, spinach, green-chillies and mint. I smile smugly to myself, as I pluck fresh flowers (hibiscus too) to arrange in my small vases, and use a lot of the veggies from our garden to cook our meals.

Veggies from the garden – now a regular sight in my house!

If a novice like me, who never imagined she’d be interested in gardening can do this, anyone can. Try it, it’s rewarding and immensely satisfying in more ways than you can imagine!

And now I have to go water my plants, never mind the drizzle!

Cutting grass

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