I've contributed to perhaps the best humor compilation I've ever read. Available now on Amazon!

My second chapbook, "The Second Book of Pearl: The Cats" is now available as either a paper chapbook or as a downloadable item. See below for the Pay Pal link or click on its cover just to the right of the newest blog post to download to your Kindle, iPad, or Nook. Just $3.99 for inspired tales of gin, gambling addiction and inter-feline betrayal.

My first chapbook, I Was Raised to be A Lert is in its third printing and is available both via the PayPal link below and on smashwords! Order one? Download one? It's all for you, baby!

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Name is Inego Montoya, You Keeled My Flowers, Prepare to Die

Winter has returned, bright and bone-cold after an absence of three or four weeks; and I’m against it.

Silly, silly me. All it took was a 50 degree temperature swing to give me hope. I’ve been here all my life, and I should have known better.

February can be such a tease.

But it’s gotten me thinking about Spring.

And that has gotten me thinking about the alley.

Why doesn’t the alley want to be beautiful? Why has the universe conspired to leave my alley weedy and sad?

The first year was foolishness, of course. Tulips? Bad idea. Even with the soil I added, the tulips never thrived. An enormous number of weeds did very well, however, including an insidious vine (are there any other kinds?) that came in mid-summer and eventually formed its own system of government. Needless to say, it took over entirely.

That was, of course, pure negligence on my part. Graduation party or weeding? Wedding or weeding? Sit with my eyes closed and the sun on my face in my backyard or weeding? Summer has many distractions, and they are all more fun than weeding.

But still, the alley bothered me: a 2 feet by 20 foot strip of land, the home of mysterious little vodka bottles and, sometimes, socks.

Who discards socks in an alley?

So two years ago I added a number of plants. Every Thursday, I bought a new plant from the Farmers Market, brought it home on the bus, trotted it into the alley, put it in the ground. It was going to be different this time: some lovely perennials picked specifically for their toughness and soil requirements. I must’ve had nine plants back there the day I wandered out back, watering can in hand, to discover nine holes in the ground.

No plants. Holes.

They’d all been dug up.

My mouth fell open with astonishment, and I stood, motionless, for quite some time, trying to comprehend what I was seeing.

I hadn’t been back there to water for three days. They came to my house in that time and dug up my plants.

Someone came along and dug them up.

I considered a world in which people came to your yard and dug up your plants.

And the more I thought about it, the angrier I became.

Steal my plants? Steal my plants?

Who steals plants?

I looked around. Where were they coming from that they were in my alley?

There’s a tiny gas station/convenience store six houses down. They saw my plants because they were walking to the store. They went home and they got a shovel. They came back. They took my plants to their house.

I looked down the alley, away from the store. They live down there.

I grabbed a shovel and a cardboard box and started walking.

I had gone three blocks when I started coming to my senses. Who am I, Dog “The Bounty Hunter” Chapman? This is crazy. I’m going to take a right when I get to the end of this block and walk down my street back to the house.

And there, a block later, on my very own street, were my plants. Up there, in front of a house just three blocks from my own. From the sidewalk, I went up into the yard. Nine mostly-dead plants, wilted and withered. They didn’t appear to have even been watered.

Thieves.

I went up to the front door and knocked, loudly. Nothing. I knocked again, loudly. More nothing.

I looked around. No one.

I dug them up. I dug them up and I took them home, where I replanted them – inside the backyard.

Steal from me, will you?!

36 comments:

Mary Moore said...

How dare they?! The flower stealers! I never knew they could stoop so low.

The Jules said...

Have you considered tarmac? the gardener's friend.

Under the Influence said...

Stealing flowers is about the lowest of the lows.

Eskimo Bob said...

2009 Feb. 23,
Nordeast Minnie - AP

Little did the residents of Minneapolis know - in the stillness of the dark alley, seedy characters prowled. Were they seeking riches or fixes to a drug problem? No.

This dredge of society isn't a Wino, Meth-head, violent robber; but a violet robber.

Yes - residents beware for the alley marauder of flora.

Never fear though - the vigilante 'Shoveler' is on the prowl to dig up these seedy characters, and return the plants to their proper place.

La Belette Rouge said...

OMG!!! Flower theft! What is next? Newspaper theft?

Pearl said...

Mary Moore, it boggled my mind for DAYS. They dug something out of the ground to steal it…

The Jules, actually, yes I have. But it feels like giving up. When you live in Minnesota, you feel quite strongly about spring’s arrival. Tarring over it would be painful for me!

Under the Influence, I agree. It’s right up there with people stealing clothes off the line as they dry…

Eskimo Bob, it ain’t right, I tell ya!

LaBelette, the newspaper I could handle! But who digs up plants?!

Sandi said...

You are very brave to steal them back! I may have just wandered down there every few days to water them in their yard.

Holte Ender said...

So that's where my socks went to, I am missing one sock per laundry load so, in your alley there should be about 50-60 odd socks.

Vic said...

Go Pearl!!
I'm angry for you! What kind of person does that? And then thinks you won't know, when they're out in plain view? Ridiculous.

Red Squirrel said...

They went to a lot of effort to then just let them die...

Good for you Pearl!

Steve said...

I'd plant Deadly Nightshade next time if I were you... ha! Let them dig that one up and take it home...

Pearl said...

Sandi, I am often quite brave in the heat of the moment. :-)

Holte Ender, I hadn’t thought of that! Perhaps my alley is where missing socks naturally gravitate…

Vic, as my son says “I know, right?” It still makes me shake my head, but I guess I should be grateful that they didn’t dig up my apple tree??!

Pearl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pearl said...

Red Squirrel, that bothered me, too. Why steal a living thing and then neglect it?

Steve, I could've just left the stinging nettles that USED to grow there!

Frank said...

LOL hard!!! That is too funny. The best part is that they were probably inside their house peeking out the window saying, “Hey, she figured it out.” Now they are just waiting for the horticulture police to show up.

Sweet Cheeks said...

If they were proper criminals they would have taken a polaroid picture or your flowers and included a few petals in an envelope with their demands...amateurs!

Just kidding PQ! You got bigger hairier 'you know whats' than a lot of guys I know...Get Liza to send some 'people' over...Have a chat...if you know what I mean...

;-)

Douglas said...

Do you know the difference between a weed and a flower?

The weed doesn't die.

Pearl said...

Frank, I kept waiting for someone to come outside, but no one did!

Sweet Cheeks, that’s a good idea. I could send Liza “Bean” Bitey over there, explain what’s what to these people.
Punks!

Ah, Douglas, you’re on to me. I’ve started cultivating only indigenous plants, nothing terribly showy but still very nice.

Ducking Little said...

OMG! I've heard of this happening, it is just so incredibly evil! They were probably too ashamed to come outside.. and too right! They will never attain Nirvana and will come back as something small with a long and miserable life expectancy next time around.

Jeanne said...

Wow.

When I lived in West St. Paul, I had two cement statues in my yard: a goose (whose attire changed for each holiday) and a Buddha (who wore a cement loincloth all the time). I didn't notice when the Buddha disappeared, but one of my neighbors told me they saw him coming back home from the house on the corner on a handtruck. Apparently the kids who lived there swiped him, and their folks brought him back.

Then I moved back to Ohio and he got stolen again, never to return. All that was left in my garden was a little Buddha butt-print in the mulch.

Glad you took your flowers back -- score one for our side!

Pearl said...

Duckling Little, wherever they are, who ever they are, I sincerely hope that the shock of coming out and seeing the nine holes in the ground knocked some sense into them.

Pearl said...

Jeanne, do you know there's a house in Nordeast that has the same goose that they dress for the seasons?!

I'm sorry to hear that your Buddha was stolen twice. It shouldn't surprise me, but it still does that there are people who will take what is yours simply because they want it but can't be bothered to get their own...

phd in yogurtry said...

Unbelievable! I've heard of stealing potted plants, and I've heard of someone cutting flowers from flower beds, but this is a new one. And just a few houses down? WTF?

Not The Rockefellers said...

And I thought those alley transplant stories were urban legends.

Or maybe Liza is messing with your head?

Peace - Rene

SweetPeaSurry said...

That is incredible. Unbelievable, seriously, who comes and steals plants. I wonder if they were surreptitious and did it in the dead of night. So strange!!!

blessings

Braja said...

You are my hero....

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Pearl,

Growing up in Chicago, I saw too often what a person was capable of stealing. I've heard of stealing flowers by the bulk and selling them. But digging up nine plants and re-planting them in your front lawn (on the same street)?

You gotta be pretty hard up to dig up plants. And BTW since their that hard up how will "stolen plants" brighten up their day when they don't even water them?

Take a picture of the plants and this "neighbor" of your's.

underOvr

fingers said...

Are you sleeping in a chair at night with a shotgun across your knees to guard your crops...

Beth said...

And did the plants live? It would make for a tragic end if all that transplanting killed the plants in the end.

And I can just picture you digging the plants up. You muttered out loud while working, right?

Ann's Rants said...

Those are the same bastards that steal a parking place you spend an hour digging out on the street after a Chicago snow storms. Can't you read the signs--I mean--chairs???

Lacey said...

I would never have the guts to do that!

And, also, I loved Glen's story.

Lisa said...

yes it happens i know from experience but wow, what about you ? taking them back- i am impressed- most excellent post !

Michelle said...

Damn Pearly-Q what kind of people do this???

Plant whisperers?? Perhaps they wanted to save the flowers and then bring them back to you???

Whatever, just protect those flowers. Sleep with them if you must!!!!

Pearl said...

Phd in Yogurtry, it’s all absolutely true. Honestly, though, I can’t be sure that the people are still there… We have a lot of renters in our area – some quite long term – but it’s a busy, lively neighborhood and odds are good that they have moved out…

Rene, It does sound like an Urban Legend, doesn’t it?

SweetPea, I prefer to think that yes, they did it in the dead of night, sneaky little bestids lurking in the shadows…

Braja, excellent!

underOVR, that was, the more I think about it (and with blogging every day, I often don’t see the intricacies of things until people point them out, as you just did), the more I remember (this was two years ago now) how hurt I was that not only had they been stolen but then they hadn’t been cared for. I think sometimes we kid ourselves that someone who has taken something but at least be caring for it, but I don’t think that’s true…

fingers, my son offered to sit on the garage with a pellet gun.

Beth, there was much muttering, some of it even printable! And no, actually. Of the nine plants, only one lived. How sad is that?

Ann, I’ve heard of that; and as a person who has lived in both Duluth (MN) and Minneapolis and knows first-hand the work that goes into shoveling a spot for one’s self, I’m just surprised people haven’t come to blows over such a thing…

Lacey, sometimes, I just don’t know what comes over me…

Michelle, Plant Whisperers. If only! Maybe they would’ve done better…

Joy! said...

Ah, that really stinks!
The same thing was happening in my neighborhood a couple years ago. I paid no attention until I spent an entire afternoon placing, digging, and planting a bunch of new azaleas. The f***ers came along and ripped them out! Good for you for retrieving them. (Then I made myself laugh to think you'd give them a proper burial after they'd died!)

R. Jacob said...

With all the new building that was going on with at the height of the housing construction down here, plants and trees often disappeared. Now they are back to their old ways, stealing new appliances.