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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Movie Stars & Camels

WE HAVE MADE it to mid May. The fear of frost is well behind us, now the fear of the heat is on. I think last year was the hottest year on record and they say this one will be a little more hot, oh boy. We are still getting a decent amount of rain and the plants are really jumping now. This would be a perfect time to apply some slow release fertilizer to your lawn and to all of your plants. Fertilizer will support the growth spurt that is occurring now.

The magnolias are in full bloom and when they are finished showing off they will have a noticeable flush of fresh leaves. I would think any plants that got a little winter burn have fully recovered by now and those plants we’ve been wondering if they were going to come back or not have either come back by now or have convinced us the dust has been bitten.

The knockout roses and drift roses and sunshine ligustrums around town this year have really put on a great show. We can’t get these plants in to our garden center fast enough. People are seeing them while driving around and wanting a taste of that in their own yard. The good news about those plants is that the show must go on. They will carry on like this until mid November when the days get shorter and gloomier. When the current flush of blooms on the roses begin to peter out I will prune them back about one third of the width and the height, fertilize them and wait 45 days for another flush of blooms like the first one. It looks like this flush is at its peak now so I will prune them around the last week of May so I should see the first peeks of color from the second flush around the 15th of July. I should be able to squeeze four major flushes of blooms on my roses at that rate.

Mimi keeps our geraniums dead headed pretty regularly which keeps them fresh looking all summer long especially since she repotted them into giant pots so they will have plenty soil around their roots during the hotter months. She will get them through the summer and well into the fall, she is the geranium master.

When I began this article I really didn’t intend to even talk gardening, but here I sit looking out of my window at home, couldn’t help myself. Earlier this week I was digging through some files looking for some important piece of paper and came across something that made me laugh. I guess I’m telling on myself. I wrote some things in my younger years I had forgotten about.

The first one I came across was a reminder of the time I came home from the Deville Cinema, the only place to watch movies for Jacksonians at the time. People from here will remember our one screen theater. The theater that played The Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night at midnight for countless years. My brother and I used that one so many times to break our normal 11 p.m. curfew so many times that I’ve lost track of how many times we would call our parents to beg a couple extra hours so we could watch that movie “one more time.” I would have seen that movie 30 something times if we had actually been going to see the movie when we said we were. I probably saw it three times for real but getting my parents to fall for it was part of the game. I believe they knew all along that we wouldn’t really be going to the cult classic so many times but they never let on, like they say, “choose your battles.”

Their battle was probably more about getting some sleep so they could function the next day. They reminded us that we were to come home directly after the flick was over and to know we would be going to church the next morning come hell or high water.

In 1980 Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields came out at the Deville Cinema. I absolutely fell head over heals for Brooke Shields and went home and immediately wrote a letter to Brooke. In the letter I asked her to come to Mississippi so I could show her our state and maybe the Alabama beaches (she looked pretty good on the beaches in the movie) and New Orleans. I told her she would love it here, I would even help pay for airfare. When I folded the letter and put it in an envelope I realized the folly. I didn’t know her address so I addressed it to Brooke Shields, Hollywood, California, USA.

I put the letter in the mailbox, put up the red flag and began to hope that surely someone out there knew how to get the letter to her and any day she would be needing a ride to Casanovas house on Reddoch Drive from the Jackson airport. A few years later she showed up even better than I expected in the form of my Mimi. I came out ahead on that deal. You just never know.

THE OTHER PIECE I found while digging around in my files was a story I wrote for a contest. Mimi and I were married at this time. Volkswagen was just about to come out with one of their new cars called a Touareg. The rules of the contest is that while writing about why you should be the one to win one of these new cars was to include the words Volkswagen, Touareg and Adventure. I knew I had this one in the bag. There was no way anyone could beat my story. Here is the exact story that I sent in. This actually happened to me:

I parked my beloved 1965 Beetle while I journeyed into a shoestring adventure around the Mediterranean Sea. While south of Marrakesh, I discovered that the nomadic Berbers, Touaregs, and shepherds congregated at night with their camels outside the village walls. They sat around small fires with cauldrons of hot stew and warm bread, serving ladlefuls into whatever bowl-shaped thing was handy. On some nights I would trade things that interested them for jewelry and carpets. The Saharan days were surreal and wonderful, but I really began to look forward to my nights around the fires, not understanding a word being said, just smiling and nodding as I found my place among the Touaregs and their camels.

One particular clear and cold desert night I’ll never forget; the stars were shining so brightly that the Milky Way looked like a highway to heaven. As I was shuffling through the pile of bowl-shaped things looking for one that seemed clean enough to eat from, I uncovered a Volkswagen hubcap. I smiled knowing this is too classic to pass up. I sopped up my soup having a moment I’ll cherish forever. I guess drinking down soup under a starry Moroccan sky from the hubcap of a Volkswagen alongside Touaregs has burned Volkswagen into my veins forever.

That’s the story I sent in to the Volkswagen people. There is no way that story wouldn’t have won that contest if they received it… If they received it, that was the glitch. In the early days of home computers I somehow goofed getting it sent in the right format, at least that’s what I have made myself believe over the years. Who knows? Maybe someone had a better story than that. I’d like to hear it.

I didn’t get Brooke Shields to come to Jackson and I didn’t get a free car but I had fun trying and really in the big picture I won anyway. My life is rich in so many ways I can’t imagine anything better. They say being able to laugh at yourself is good medicine, I have a lot to laugh about.

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