Gramma’s Special Weed
Each summer, Gramma’s tomato seedlings would grow into big, plump brilliant red balls filled with the sweetest juice I’ve ever tasted. Her tulips would become beautiful, plush, delicate blossoms, with such an inviting fragrant odor. And, each year the black-eyed Susans that grew like pillars at the end of her stone walkway would blossom into magnificent bushes of yellow, speckled with splashes of little velvety black eyes. It was Gramma’s special weed, however, that my brothers and I remember the most.
Gramma was a short, skinny woman who never let the young girl within her become lost. She was an old swamp Yankee if I ever saw one, with a mischievous twinkle in her brown eyes that gave away her youthful nature. She use to cut her dried-out, thinning, gray hair with a razor blade (Why waste money on a haircut when you can do it yourself, she would argue) and her fingernails were nothing more than little nubs from all the hard work her and Granddad put in to harvesting their land. I grew up living in the adjacent apartment to her home until I was in the fourth grade; she was truly a second mother to me, and I still feel the void in my life that she once filled.
The yard we shared with my grandparents wasn’t huge, but it had flower beds scattered all over its one and a half acres, with a huge 30 x 50ish foot vegetable garden located at the bottom of a steep, rolling, grassy hill to compliment it. Keeping the gardens up was a lot of work; the hardest part was continually staying ahead of all those weeds as they sprouted through the gardens rich black soil.
From an early age, Gramma taught all of her grandchildren what weeds looked like, and how to effectively remove them from the gardens. With her stubby dirt-stained fingers, she’d grab right ahold of those weeds where they dared sprouted from the ground, and she’d rip them out mercilessly. Yeah, Gramma had an eye for spotting a weed, and teachin’ it a lesson, but there was that one weed that got the better of her; the one we remember so well. It took up residence in the flowerbed that had been carved into the hillside about 6 feet below the window where Gramma always sat and had her morning coffee.
Each morning she would admire the golden finches as they ate out of the bird feeder on the top of the hill while she waited for her cup of Maxwell House to cool down. She’d tell Granddad, who always sat in his own special chair next to
a different window, when the titmice were feasting at the long tubular feeder filled with thistle seed. Most of all, she’d admire her flower beds. It was on one of those warm New England mornings, while waiting to take her first sip of coffee, that she had first noticed this special weed.
She’d never seen such a weed, as she would later tell us, so she decided to let it grow to see what it was. All season long she nurtured it with plant food, kept the other weeds at bay as they continually attempted to grow up around it, and at one point, had tied it up to an old piece of dried-up thin fencing post she’d inserted into the soil next to it so it wouldn’t fall over. Believe me when I tell you, this weed was huge; but when Gramma eventually showed us her special weed, my little brother, Al, and I could barely believe what we were seeing.
“Come here, I want to show you this odd looking weed I found,” she said to us one warm summer day as we came in the front door of her home. “I’ve never seen a weed like it before, but it’s actually quite beautiful, and unique.” She pointed out the window to the flower bed below then stepped aside for us to see as she went into the pantry.
By this point in time, we had moved to a house right down the road from our grandparents, but we still visited them every day. Al and I walked over to her window. We looked out into the garden below. What we saw took our breath away!
There, towering over the pink, white and blue patches of flux, and just in front of the perfectly grow, rich green clusters of ornamental grass, was one huge, momma-ju-momma marihuana plant! Pot…oh my God! My grandmother was growing pot in her flowerbed.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” she said more than asked. “It’s really fragrant, too,” she added, as she drew some water in the pantry for her and Gramps’s midday coffee.
Al and I looked at each other, and I whispered to him, “Isn’t that a pot plant?”
“Oh my God! Gramm is growing pot!” he said. I smacked his scrawny little arm and put my finger up to my mouth signaling him to be quiet so Gramma wouldn’t hear him. We both looked out the window again. “Oh my God!” I repeated over and over quietly so she wouldn’t hear me. “I can’t believe Gramma is growing a pot plant!”