My father’s mother used to grow beautiful African violets. I didn’t pay attention to the care she gave them, I just liked the flowers — purple, white, doubles, pink. I bought an African violet when we first moved into our house and it promptly died. Not giving up easily — I bought another. Then another — and so on and so on. It didn’t take many plants before I learned that I didn’t have a green thumb. I didn’t know if I watered them too much or not enough. I learned that they needed to be watered from the roots — which I did. They had access to light, not bright sunshine but filtered light. Didn’t matter — they picked up their leaves and left.
Since I have had so much success with African violets, I am AMAZED that a plant that was given to me more than twenty years ago is still not only alive but thriving. I DON’T FERTILIZE IT, weeks go by when I forget to water it. It still blooms every spring. Sometimes it overgrows its pot, a portion of it wilts and the rest recovers.
This plant was given to me by MUSCLES. I think I have written at least one thought ramble about him, and referred to him in others. Muscles was a VERY DARK, elderly African American man. He adopted our family when our children were small. He took them to many Cub games and planted a garden in our back yard. His tomato plants were taller than our garage. Our back yard didn’t get much sun, so we didn’t get many tomatoes. He planted two apple trees and a lilac bush at our camper. Sadly because of the tornado, only the lilac bush is surviving and blooming.
So why do I mention this now. Because I remembered to water the plant today and it looks fantastic. More often than not I forget to water it and NEVER feed it. The only reason it is surviving is that thankfully someone unseen is taking care of it. I’ll admit that when I see the plant, I think of Muscles and the difference he made in our lives.
I thought of Muscles this morning as I watered our African violet. I have to admit that I don’t remember to water it every week — hopefully at least once a month. Muscles gave the plant to me many years ago. He passed over many years ago, in 1990 at the age of 90. Muscles loved to garden — that is how we met him. He asked Terri, our youngest daughter at the time, if he could plant a garden in our yard. When my husband met him, Tom agreed.
I should mention that Muscles was a very dark African American — possibly the shade of dark mahogany. Although my children are a good mix of many countries, they look like typical Swedes — fair skinned, blonde hair. Our neighbors did a double take when they saw our children with Muscles. My husband is from the South — his family is still very prejudiced. The army whittled away at my husband’s prejudice and Muscles erased the rest. He adopted our family and we took him camping, fed him meals when he stopped by and invited him to stay overnight on many occasions. In fact, it was our house that he had a stroke that sent him to the VA.
Muscles came to mind when I was watering the plant. My grandmother loved African violets. She watered and fed them regularly. Before I received the plant from Muscles, I acquired a few plants myself. THEY NEVER SURVIVED. Here I have this plant that Muscles gave me, it blooms every year. The plant is over 25 years old. HE MUST BE TAKING CARE OF IT. If it depended on me — it would no longer be green.
I think he is taking care of the apple tree at the camper too. For many years it didn’t have any fruit. In 2012, it had ten apples. They were delicious. We DON’T SPRAY the tree. Last year, it had too many to count. This year — none. I’ve heard that the snowy, cold spring delayed many fruit trees from blooming. It was a very snowy winter, it has been a very rainy summer. The predictions for the coming winter are challenging.
I recently mailed birthday cards to our friends and family. Many are born in September and October — almost an even dozen. Muscles is part of that group — he was born on October 1st.