Planting sticks helps stake special relationship

A word or two regarding popsicle sticks.

Last week, I was cleaning up the yard following our most recent episode of Northwest weather. Basically, it was the fall and winter variety with too much rain, more wind than needed, leaves and branches left behind, and the certainty that more’s coming.

I was clearing one of our mint beds (a necessary ingredient in a proper Mint Julep) when I came upon six popsicle sticks that’d been stuck into the ground. And here’s some background regarding the smile that then appeared on my face.

Our daughter, her fiancé, and our granddaughter moved out a little over a year ago. They left for, and settled in,Texas where they were going to purchase a local restaurant and begin working at their dreams.

The loan got stalled and things didn’t work out, but another opportunity opened up in Florida. They took a hard look, offered a bid which was accepted, the loan came through, they packed up, moved, and are now the owners of all of the headaches that come with restaurant ownership — this time in Destin, Florida.

My wife and I had been lucky as grandparents. We’d had our daughter and Lori, our granddaughter, with us for several years. We’d been able to watch as Lori grew from an infant to a toddler to a pre-schooler to a little girl. It worked out well for all of us. Our daughter was able to finish her college degree while we got to spoil the living bejeezus out of our granddaughter on a very regular basis.

We both toiled mightily at that task. My wife bought her many of the soft, frilly things every granddaughter needs, read her stories at night, and proved to her that grandmothers’ laps are the most comfortable places on earth for a little girl to sit.

I taught her to fish, explained to her the intricacies of making waffles, proved that bread always falls buttered side down, and showed her the proper way to lick ice cream cones. I also introduced her to nautical phrases and was extremely proud when I once heard her ask her mother if getting up at “Oh-Dark-Hundred” was really necessary.

My wife escaped rebuke while “Larry! What have you been teaching Lori?” became, for years, a common phrase in our home.

All that said, one of my best memories was when she once finished a popsicle and wanted to know what to do with the stick. That’s when our daughter said, “Why don’t you plant them in the garden to see if they’ll grow popsicles this winter.” To a then 4-year-old little girl, this made perfect sense and I soon began finding popsicle sticks in odd places throughout our planting beds.

I think our daughter forgot about it but, one night that winter, some snow fell and, the next morning when I went outside, I saw those sticks and knew what I had to do. I made a quick trip to the local store, bought a box of popsicles, came home, and planted them where the sticks had been.

I’m not sure words can describe the scene when Lori woke up, looked outside, and saw her crop. I’ll just offer that all the money on this planet couldn’t buy a moment like that.

Needless to say, we’d created another Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy kind of tradition around our home and one grandfather now looked forward to snow almost as much as our granddaughter did.

She’s eight-years-old now and I think she’s had it figured for a while. Still, she and her mother were here for a short visit this past summer and we got to do many of the things we used to do. Apparently that included planting popsicle sticks since — as noted at the beginning of this piece — I found six of them planted in the mint I grow.

I don’t know if they were for her or for me, and it doesn’t really matter because, after our first snow, I’m going to call Lori to tell her that her crop’s in and she’s welcome to come pick them at any time.

I’ll even help. It’s what grandpas do.

Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: larrysim@comcast.net

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