the pot lady and other secrets no one told me

by bam

sometimes i think i must be living in a land of secret handshakes and furtive whispers. all around me, i find out, there are phone calls people make and places where they meet.
it is enough to give a girl the willies. and make her want to hide behind the curtains–if only she had them, that is. (i think there might be a curtain fairy; she delivers in the night, yards and yards of flowing silk, drapes it over rods, lets it puddle on the floor. but apparently she never got my address. because my windows, alone in all the land, are buck naked, sans the puddled silk.)
take the requisite front pot. you know the bulbous vat, dumped with mud, the one that tries so very hard to stay abreast of seasons. the one positioned just beside the door that in our case we always use. though sometimes, i am certain, it is just for show, and all the traffic flows in some hidden entrance. the kind for which you punch a secret code. i’m telling you it is the land of secrets.
which brings me back to that ol’ pot. you see above–because this is really simply grownup show and tell–that my pot is probably behind the times. limping in a land of sleek and muscled tri-athletes. poor pot, it really tried.
it’s just that, well, i guess it didn’t meet the code.
my mother, bless her heart, tried to be my pot maid. she pulled her car right off the highway entrance ramp. left it idling, while she trudged into the weeds, clipped some cattails and swishy grasses.
why, we even snipped a blue hydrangea from the bushes out in front, sacrificed its pretty head for the sake of that fine pot. we tucked little pumpkins, just for color. but now they seem to have been gnawed, by buck-toothed rodents hungry for a nibble with their afternoon’s spot of tea.
for nearly five years now, i’ve been motoring around these leafy parts, here on the shore of that great and vaunted lake. i’ve seen through all my travels pots supreme. pots not at all like my front pot, my pot my mother filled with what she borrowed from the swamp.
i’ve seen pots that looked as if they belonged at versailles. and pots that would have fed an army, stuffed as they are with all the food groups, except for maybe steak and cheese.
i’ve seen pots that make me want to pull over to the curb, set up easel, start to squeeze my tubes of oily paint.
i’m telling you these pots redefine rococo.
and every time i see one i think, holy cow, how do they do it? do they have a little corner of the garage, just for all their pot accessories? do they haul home shopping carts, just to fill their pots? and how, i want to scream, do they get those itty-bitty eggplants to keep from falling off the gourds?
those are the thoughts, and the rat-a-tat of questions, that a simple brain might spew.
but nothing here is simple. and this is how i tripped upon the truth:
just the other afternoon, i traipsed down someone’s walk. i had something to drop off. i rang the bell. the man of the house pulled back the door. wow, those pots are really something, i exclaimed, pointing to a pair piled high with kale, and chili peppers, pumpkins and some squash that could have used a visit to the dermatologist, what with all its many warts.
“oh, that’s the pot lady,” he said, not knowing that he’d slipped, divulged a deep dark whisper, the sort that draws a line ’tween us and them.
“she’s like a fairy,” he chirped, confirming my suspicions about that there curtain lady too. “i think she comes in the middle of the night, takes the pots, brings ’em back, looks like art.”
uh huh, i mumbled, backing off the stoop. i wanted out of there before he realized his grave error. he’d let me in on a big fat secret, a secret kept from those of us who for whatever reason haven’t made the grade.
had the lady of the house been home i am 117-percent certain she would have said, “why, thank you,” when i said the pots were something. she’d have kept a lid on full disclosure. she’d have known i didn’t know the password for admission to the pot club.
but now i know. and now i’m not so giddy. i am lurking, skulking, tree to tree. i am thinking there are other secrets i don’t know, here, where pots are perfect.
i remember now how when i mow the lawn, push my little roto-blades, the ones that make the clip-clip sound, a purr, i like to think, how odd it was when the lady down the block came to tap me on the shoulder, ask, as if i were a species near extinct, if i found delight in cutting grass? or did i merely like the taste of sweat?
she’d not seen in years, she said, someone inclined to cut her own. my mother, too, says cars come to a crawl when she is out doing her yard work. she digs in mud, hauls a bush from here to there, because she likes it, frankly. can’t imagine not doing it. where’s the joy, she asks, in pawning off the job?
apparently, we are of the lineage that is losing ground. we are of a mind to do the work our very selves.
but now i see that there’s a downside. your pots look like, well, they’ve been standing in the rain, making lunch for squirrels, and your neighbors down the block appear as if they’re in the running for ol’ martha’s glossy spread.

i do believe this to be a quirk of my corner of the world. or have you spied the handiwork of someone like the pot lady? do you find yourself in the dark, sometimes, not knowing all the secrets? what jobs do you like to do all on your own, when all the world is calling in the experts?