I suppose it must really be called “green thumb.” A cutting of this and a sprig of that placed in water or hastily stuck in the ground. Then bingo! Nature smiles and yields her blessings. In fact my friend Rosie is a natural. She never pays a bit of attention to directions, just plants things anywhere she pleases.
A green thumb has to do with the heart as well as the hand. And I know Rosie’s hands and heart are perfectly matched, strong, gentle, loving. Ageless hands, neither delicate nor slender, itching with character. What she does with her hands reflects what is living in her heart.
Her homey kitchen is my favorite place to sit. She always has a full cookie jar and her African violets bloom just to please her. Rosie is one of those cooks, who use a dab of this and a pinch of that, never glancing at a cookbook. She can put out a spread at the drop of a hat. Feed a choir in thirty minutes, tops!
Another sinfully, delicious, thing about dining with Rosie is that she encourages you to eat dessert first. “May as well eat whatcha like” she’ll grin, passing the chocolate cake or custard, or pecan pie.
At work or play she hums and sings. Nine times out of ten the tunes are bits and pieces of old hymns. But, once or twice I recall hearing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and occasionally she belts out, “You Are My Sunshine.” Rosie is no modest spring chicken.
Not too many moons ago she and her “good friend” Buchanan got married. “Can’t know your mate until you’ve been married about 15 years,” Mr. B says mischievously. This brings such a wreath of smiles to Rosie’s face, it dimples in 50 places. “You never know ‘em!” “ And if that’s the case, we might as well hang it on the rack.” Mr. B. slaps his knee and merrily kisses her on the cheek. Rosie’s 87 and Buchanan hitting 90. The two of them are Walton look-alikes. And will probably be “gate-tenders” in heaven.
She and Mr. B. tumble over old jokes, hold hands and discuss their days, in that special admiring, “one on one” way they reserve for one another. When the children sometimes over stay their visits, Mr. B has been known to say, (with a twinkle in his eye)“We’d better go on to bed now so you children can get on home”!
On occasion, (not often) her feathers ruffle and she will even raise her voice, (well, a pitch or two) to Mr. B. Take the time he cut all the shrubbery down to the ground, and deeper! Or his mention of their getting-up time.
“Well, why in the world do we get up at the crack of dawn?”He’d said.
“Well, speak for yourself Darlin’. She gives him one of her long considering stares.
Rosie has spent too many years in the company of black wash pots, scrub boards, and clotheslines shagging in the fresh air, for her to become a lady of leisure at this late date.
She still keeps company with her “daylight” petunias, bluebirds and kittens. Rosie spends a lot of time reading her Bible, and talking things over frankly with God. No amateur Christian here.
For years she taught Sunday School, and if the church doors are open, Rosie is about the first one in, with her plump, lovely self, floating along in a drift of pink-flowered cotton, holding her straw hat firmly on her head. Mr. B is close behind; tall and slender, clinging to her hand, opening the door, moving quickly in her shadow. Might say he has taken a liking to her!
Rosie still brushes her hair nightly, with long, delicate movements, “99, 100.” Mr. B. likes to watch. Some brown streaks still peak through, but time has blurred it with gray; it falls to her waist. With practiced precision, she brushes the ends around her long fingers and with a firm twist folds it into a neat-old-fashioned bun against her neck.
“Has Nanna Rosie always been like this?” Her look-alike granddaughter wonders. There’s no doubt about it. No one big moment made my Rosie the self -reliant person she is. She was absolutely born with that “green thumb” and certainly that spunk! She has pushed hard at her horizons. She struggled against lack of education, and lack of money; learned to make do. And though she believes in going with the “drift of things,” she knows you have to paddle extra hard around the currents. She accepted what she could not change, and changed what she could.
So here’s to you Rosie, with your silky hair and purple- blue eyes. Keep right on dancing: Hold on to Mr. B’s hand, and grab mine please if you would, on the way over.
Micki Cottle was a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent who occassionally regales readers with her wit and charm. She is also a member of the Sampson County Historical Society.