So much green.

She couldn’t take the monotony anymore. She had a day off she did not want, but she couldn’t well go into the office alone. She did not want to stay at home alone, either. Or go to the cafe alone. In a moment of friendly insight, Sal invited her to one of the greenhouses for the day. After hour three she got rather bored of standing around and doing nothing. So she was assigned the repotting of a number of small flowering plants whose names she cannot recall. Not technically allowed due to the strict botany lab rules, but the team leader must have gotten tired of watching her lurk. Now she has been filed away to harmlessly pot the mysterious things.

Can any of these be made into tea? She asks.

Oh goodness, no! Sal looks aghast. Not what you’re potting there; these are quite toxic. But most of this greenhouse is dedicated to herbs. She indicates the rest of the vast space, which resembles a skeletal airframe, with a vague wave of the hand. We just have this little section for ornamentals. This corner would have been wasted otherwise; that soil you’re working with isn’t precisely nutrient-balanced. That’s why the planters are so well insulated, see? We grow our hobby plants in here. Oh, and make sure you don’t go in the main section without switching your boots first.

Ah, so they’ve given her the least expensive charges. She doesn’t mind; on the contrary, she is relieved that she cannot ruin anything. As much as she would wish to be on a botany team, she has neither the training nor the innate instincts to make green things grow, much as she loves them. But perhaps she can learn, at least a little.

Casting constant furtive glances in the direction of the mint, she is rewarded with an entire small plant which she can take home. She begins to feel a bit like a child being given a gift as a reward for completing an activity, but she does not mind. Now instructions for its care are repeated ad nauseam. She can take care of one measly plant, surely. She places it on a bench while she works in the hobby plant section. All afternoon she inhales the fresh sharp scent of green, which suddenly becomes stronger and more familiar.

Pine trees. A similar tree grows around here, though it is lower, closer to the ground in order to avoid the winds. The local aspiring pines gather in little tree villages outside town. These true pines have longer, greener needles.

Before we break for the day, these need to be planted outdoors. You could help with a few. Do you think you’re up to it? The team leader eyes her dubiously.

Of course! To tell the truth, she is not quite up to it, having spent the last months mostly indoors going through books, the only change having been provided by solitary rambles. But she needs the exercise. Best start now.

Two exhausting hours later, she looks at a row of freshly planted young pine trees marching toward the horizon. As a reward for her efforts, she has received an armful of discarded branches that scratch and poke her all the way home, though they make a beautiful arrangement on top of her little piano.

The mint goes on a dedicated little side table, awaiting his arrival.



Story © 2015 Clio Em.

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