Slaughter on Second Street

Winter has finally come to Westcliffe. The last few mornings we’ve had zero degrees at dawn, and today we have flurries… flurries that we fervently hope turn into a snow soaker.


Shouldering the seasons in the airlock.

With colder below zero temperatures on the horizon, I moved four planters of knee-high geraniums from the unheated airlock into the house. But before I situated them, I cut them to the quick. I can’t tell you how painful it is to take a perfectly healthy plant and top-it. Pruning them felt like the amputation of a good friend’s arm. With every cut, I apologized.” I’m sorry, I’m sorry… If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t…”

Measuring the mayhem, I threw the cuttings in our old kitchen sink, and the mound of flowers gave me a baleful glare. They weren’t a bit grateful. I sensed their lower lips sticking out.


And then last night in between tossing and turning, I began to wonder why it is so important to annually winter-over these geraniums. They have, after all, lived a good life… a life of hand-watering, conscientious dead-heading, and Miracle-Gro. And they have lived a long life of a decade or more.

It’s not like they appreciate my preparing them for another summer out-of-doors… the sun on their faces… amongst the birds and the bees. So why do I keep them with me when it might be easier to just buy new plants at the nursery next spring?

I’ve decided that my motivation has something to do with control and continuity. As the world speeds up and change comes whether I’m ready or not… as I feel that I am running in place and being left behind, I’m looking for reassurance that I have something under my thumb. As for continuity, thanks to my care, yesterday’s geraniums will live to see another summer.

In regard to my brutal butchering, my mother’s words came to me. Prior to a spanking or forcing me to drink the cod liver oil or eat lima beans, she would say, “It’s for your own good!”

I was never far-sighted encough to appreciate my mother’s wisdon. I wonder if on some cellular level, the geraniums are smarter.
























































About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Slaughter on Second Street

  1. Anne Relph says:

    Hate to do that too Hugs Anne

    Sent from my iPhone


    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Anne, It is so good to know I’m not alone. On one level, I feel sort of silly – I am brutalizing a plant, not a person. But on another level, I think we (plants and animals) are doing the best we can, and we have some commonality.

  2. Maria Weber says:

    Hilarious title for the perfect essay. I too have (red) geraniums that I hack back to their original stubs at the end of the season . . . and I too feel so mean. Then they winter next to the art room windows where they fatten out and drop their petals all over the tile.

    Yesterday was much fun, especially with you three from Westcliffe.


    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Maria, Yesterday was fun – it is always good to see new people. (Especially people who are younger – I got such a kick about three people speaking of their time spent with Dr. Hunter. Me too! And also Lucia. That makes five! On the way home, I asked Wayne if he felt left out because so many of us think of Dr. Hunter as a dear friend.)

  3. Monica says:

    I agree but I have been doing it for 10 years & still keep on wintering mine

  4. timeout2 says:

    Dear Monica, We have got to get together on our cutting back. My geraniums are all pink. I would love to exchange from pink for a red or white. xo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s