Friday, June 20, 2014


It’s been nice.
It’s been real.
Everyone shout:
School Is Out!

After nine long months of books, bags and test papers the school year is finally over! Yippee! Although I haven’t attended school this century, I am thrilled that high schools, elementary schools and preschools are out for the summer!

“Good-bye, school!” I said setting the bagged groceries on the kitchen floor.
“You sound like a grump,” Mr. Wonderful said putting the fruit into a bowl.
“Actually I don’t mind the schools, just the kids.” 
“Correction, you sound like Harold.”

I enjoy my neighbors but saying I sounded like Harold? That was a serious accusation coming from the man who promised to love, honor and not-compare-me-to-octogenarian-men until death do us part. Our 86 year-old neighbor Harold was known for several things including: Having a gem of a wife; Flying the U.S. flag and; Complaining about life. 

Among his life complaints were gripes about the school kids who walked through our neighborhood on their way to—and from—school. He specifically said they were “slobs”.

“They throw their garbage on the ground,” he said one day pointing at an empty bag of Doritos in my native California plants garden. 
“That probably fell on the ground accidentally,” I said retrieving the single serving-sized bag. Then I proceeded to explain how I’d seen papers accidentally drop from a kid’s backpack without the kid noticing. “It was an accident,” I said.
“Not everything is an accident.”
“Because those kids are just slobs,” he said straightening the flagpole in its harness and retreating to his house.   

Having watched our neighborhood street since moving into The House, I had grown to agree with Harold about the slob label. Sure some kids dropped things accidentally like “Angel” who wrote a love letter in pencil on lined notebook paper to “Mi Amor”. Based on the sweet things in it, it’s clear “Mi Amor” dropped this love letter by accident. But other kids were just slobs—which showed in their untied sneakers, wrinkled clothing and serious cases of bed head. If these teens didn’t care about their own personal hygiene, why would they care if they dropped an empty Doritos bag in my garden?

By June I was tired of picking up after them. I was tired of them—intentionally or not—dropping debris in the street, which blew into my garden. I was tired of them not respecting my plants. In short I was tired of kids. I had become a grump, just like Harold.

The next day I was outside trimming my California Sage plant when a trio of teens walked past my garden. Behind my sunglasses I rolled my eyes. Here we go: three more garden-polluting slobs.

“Is your garden drought tolerant?” I looked up to see that the teens had stopped in the street and one 16 year-old boy was moving his lips.
“What’s it to you?” I said adjusting my wide-brimmed hat like a grumpy person who even hates the sun.
“It’s just, this summer I’m working at a garden center that specializes in drought tolerant plants and you have a bunch of them in your garden.” He didn’t call it a “yard” but a “garden”. Hmmm, maybe this kid knew something after all.
“As a matter of fact they are all drought tolerant plants and these plants are specifically California Natives.”
“Cool,” he said nodding.
“This is California Sage.”
“I’ve never even seen this plant before.”
“There are so many plants in our environment to discover,” I said smiling behind my sunglasses and under my hat. 
“I hope I can learn about a lot of them at my summer job,” he said with a smile.
“I hope so too.” Someone coughed. 
“Dude…” his friend said from the street.
“Well I have to go. Good-bye!” and the young man bounded off after his friends. 

What an un-slobby, smart, young man. I hope it’s not good-bye as in “forever” but good-bye as in “for now”. Happy Summer, kids!

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