It seems like much more than a month has gone by since the fires. It feels like we’ve been worrying about people, helping people and learning what has happened to people for a long, long, long time.
Yet, nothing will be the same in our Northern California communities for a long, long time. I keep trying to search for the bright side.
I know that there are more cars at Big Al’s Drive In because people are stacked two and three families deep in small apartments. Families who are guests are likely going out to eat more often to give their host families a little elbow room.
I love Big Al’s, one of those throw-back places you just don’t see in most towns. Maybe this boom to business (with an unfortunate origin) will mean one of my favorite places for grease will be around when my students are parents.
Where will all of these displaced people live? All of those people who are still in shelters, in tents at fairgrounds or renting RVs to park in their best friends’ driveway?
Construction workers will have work for years to come, and those workers may very well seek some grub at places like Big Al’s, which will undoubtedly be in business until the rest of my hair turns gray.
This is a gardening column, and I’m big into bulbs. I’ve written many times that planting bulbs is an act of hope. Its more than that, actually. It’s an act of hope with a very probable, happy outcome.
Luckily, I already have bulbs in my classroom. Hyacinths.
Last week when I spruced up my classroom before students returned, I rounded up the bulbs growing in vases of water. The roots were impressive in early November, but now they’re a watery tangle of tender white tendrils. I placed them in a circle with some of those battery-operated, tiny LED lights, atop some dark blue silk.
I like to place little surprises here and there, then say nothing.
Over time, children notice.
“Look Miss Hacking, it’s starting to grow on the top.”
I loved pretending to be surprised.
“Yes, that’s where the green shoot will soon be growing.” I can’t wait until the hyacinths bloom and some sweet child says, “Miss Hacking, something smells really, really good.”
I’ve never grown six hyacinth bulbs all at once indoors. I want to be surprised, so I’ll try not to imagine how amazing this will smell. Maybe it will mask that strange egg smell that comes from the watercolor paint.
Or maybe they won’t notice. Over the break from school I scrounged a set of storage cubbies from a stack of salvage furniture at my school.
I couldn’t wait for the kids to notice them. But for some reason, hidden in plain view, they walked right past them until Tuesday.
Hope all year
Alas, I have still not planted bulbs in my actual yard. I’ve procrastinated in the past and placed bulbs in outdoor pots in mid- to late December. However, I wouldn’t recommend waiting any longer.
If you don’t have bulbs, go buy some right now. We all need bulbs in the spring, when we’re driving past scorched earth and the parking lot is still packed at Big Al’s.
The good thing about bulbs, is that there are many that you can grow all year-round. Gardeners.com, notes that amaryllis and paperwhites do not need to be chilled in the refrigerator. This can be especially beneficial if you haveur families sharing the same fridge. The indoor plants on the must-chill list include tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, crocus, Dutch iris and scilla. If you have room, plant them all.
I’ve had great fun with small dollar store fish bowls with dollar store pebbles in the bottom. Just don’t forget to add water.
I would use small glass food jars as well, but we’re using all that I can find for painting projects in my classroom.
The easiest indoor bulbs, according to the website, are crocus, hyacinth, muscari and mini-daffodils.
I made the mistake once of buying a giant bag of paperwhites at a big box store, and learned they were the giant variety. They were lovely, but grew so tall (and in my case long), that they sprawled over most of my kitchen table.
If you plant bulbs indoors, let me know how it goes. I’d love if you sent a few digital pictures. These days I’ll take all the little jolts of cheer I can get.