Saturday, June 1, 2019

Sex On The Patio

The best ideas are when you take two older ideas that have nothing to do with each other, make them have sex with each other, and then build a business around the bastard, ugly child that results.

James Altucher, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre Entrepenuers

This is not a good home for a plant. Too drafty.

Once there was a cracked planter on my patio step.

Oh, it hasn't always been cracked. Last summer, I found it at a thrift store, a nice wooden bucket sort of a thing with straight sides and interesting wooden knob things that probably served to attach a handle at some point in its previous life. 

I brought it home, planted it up with some outdoor succulents and watched the whole arrangement bloom and flourish in the glorious August and September sunshine. 

But at some point during the winter, the wood gave way to water. The fused strips of wood split in one place, and then two places. As spring came and I took over watering duties from Mother Nature, I noticed that any water I poured in to the old wooden bucket immediately streamed out the splintered side. While the plants inside were still riding the tide of good health from the winter rains, I knew their lush green luck would not last into the hot days of summer. 

The old bucket had had it, and I needed to move my plants to a safer home. But what with my shopping ban, rather than running out to buy a new pot, I encouraged my brain to puzzle over the problem and see if I could find a solution at hand. 

This home is much cozier, with ample soil for deep roots and plenty of sunshine. Soon this angel will be blooming again. 

Once, on the far side of that very same patio, there was an empty planter.

Oh, it hadn't always been empty. Since the tall, ochre yellow pot occupies a place of honor in the view from my kitchen window,  I make a point to fill it up every spring with bright and showy annuals. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, the annuals coast through the lean months of winter, and then perk back up again for a second summer performance. 

The most recent occupants of this planter had already served me well for three summers, and sure enough, this March, I recognized that their long run was over. So I yanked out the exhausted roots and with them came a lot of potting soil, which left me with a planter not only devoid of flowers but also missing about eight inches of soil.

So I regretfully added "new annuals for yellow patio pot" to my long nursery shopping list, and reminded myself that, shopping ban or not, this purchase would be allowable and money well spent.

* * * * *

It wasn't until yesterday afternoon that I was outside on my patio, running the hose, planting new tomato starts, and generally having a wonderful time that the lightning bolt hit. And it happened like this.

I was watering - or attempting to water, I should say - the plants in the cracked planter, watching the water pour uselessly down through the space between the inside of the planter and the dried soil, and spill out onto the step. 

And then, without skipping a beat, I turned around 180 degrees to do something else, and saw the empty yellow planter standing straight in front of me.

Zip. Zap. ZING!

Without a moment's hesitation, I picked up the broken planter, carried it to the yellow pot, turned it upside down to release the plants. 

They popped out perfectly, all the soil in one intact disc. I dropped the whole bundle into the empty space at the top of the yellow pot, where the plants now sat at a perfect level to the top of the pot. Grabbing the bag of potting soil sitting nearby - remember my tomato planting project? - I quickly tucked soil round the diameter of the new occupants, settling them into their new home. 

My only question:  why, why, why was I so blind to the obvious connection between these two conundrums?

Because I literally could not see both parts of the problem at the same time.

From my kitchen window, I can see the tall yellow pot but not the wooden planter.

And from my patio steps, I look directly down upon the wooden planter but rarely lift my gaze to see the yellow pot across the way.

My brainstorm struck when I looked first at one problem situation and then directly at the other; that one-two punch of visual connection jump-started my brain and showed me a solution that I could not otherwise see. 

These are not the plants that I moved to the new planter, but they look very similar. 
Imagine these blossoms in hot pink. 

Soon, my happily relocated plants will bloom again, and this episode of sex on the patio will be complete. 

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