I am not a cooping-up creature. I love the city. I love the streets and alleys and the stretch of tall buildings, the late night places, the light spilling at odd angles across sidewalks, the feeling of asphalt under my feet.
I do not love so very little space to garden. I have a balcony full of plants right now, all constrained in pots, and wanting room to unfurl. Maybe some deeper troughs for hardier roots.
And that’s what I miss most about Port Charlotte, though I never thought I’d say it: a yard with a garden. My okra with buttermilk blooms and raisin tinted middles. My peppers popping capsaicin red under the autumn sun. My pomegranate’s dragon-tongued blossoms shedding petals, then rounding, rounding into heavy fruit.
I thought in moving to Miami, I had to trade all of that to have a city. It was the one thing I was reluctant to give up, but it was worth it to be in a place that didn’t fall asleep before eight, that felt like it breathed deep breaths before dancing through the night in a swirl of sodium arc orange and neon glow. A place all food and sound and bodies and thrum. It was a welcome trade, and expected loss. I weighed it carefully when I made my choice.
And then I met Kit and Mouse. They were coworkers in the electronics store, lived in Fort Lauderdale, and owned a beautiful little house with walls painted teal and green apple and sage, with a yard full of bees. You know: the ill-mowed scraggle that cradles little white wildflowers of a million sorts, a secret feast for insects on the wing. And they asked me to help with their garden.
Suddenly, I didn’t have to choose. My city-self well-fed, my night-roamer uncaged, and now my gardener girl, overalled and barefoot, had been invited out to play, too. I helped plant scallions, prepare raised vegetable beds with peat moss and compost. As Kit and Mouse expand their gardening to include an urban chicken coop, their own bees in top bar hives, more raised beds for tomatoes and eggplant and okra and squash, I’ll get to be there to help. I don’t have to trade my sanity for my green thumb.