Sounds like a thriller title, right? (It is. I just looked it up on Amazon, and there is a gun on the cover. 'Nuff said.) What it means to me - and any Southern gardener - is danger. All those fall blooms, all those tender plants - a freeze can be deadly. Which is why I have a trunk of old flannel sheets and blankets just for plants. Out they come, and I begin the process of tucking in the vulnerable ones for the night. (When we have freezes late in the spring and plants have already begun to leaf and bud, I get even nuttier. They get hot water bottles under their blankies - plastic bottles filled with hot water for the night.)
We've had four hard freezes in a week, and broken several records for cold temperatures in November. On one of those frigid nights, I went to my first book club meeting. The book was Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult - a novel about about a school shooting. It wades through the incredible pressures of high school, social hierarchies, sports worship, teacher involvement and kid cruelty, as well as parents' lives and what they miss. It was an interesting read, and sparked a lot of discussion. Many of the women talked about their kids and how they were dealing with high school. One member had a sibling who was always picked on, and even institutionalized, partially due to incessant bullying.
It was only after the meeting, when I got into my frigid car (love that Subaru heater!) that it occurred to me that my school years weren't all that easy. Due to my father's civil rights work, grade school in a conservative small town was pretty tough. I heard "nigger lover" more than hello. I had chocolate ice cream smeared on me, my locker, my books - any time it was served at the cafeteria. And since it was the time of black power, bus rides as the only white kid weren't much fun either. One cold morning, my seat mate wrote "I HATE CRACKERS" in the frosty glass of the school bus window. On the long drive into town, the moisture of the letters slowly gathered and dripped, until it looked like a poster for a horror movie. Kinda was. And that was just grade school. Middle school was an entirely different story, but no less challenging. And here I read a book on kids ostracising one another, and sat through an entire discussion on it, without once thinking of my own experience. Amazing how things go into cold storage. And stay there.
Reading: Exit Music
Listening to: Marisa Monte
Blooming - Pansies