The Summer Machine and Signs of Life


What a day yesterday!  Weather wise, it was a brisk, clear, picture-perfect November day in Southern Connecticut, made all the better for it happening in the middle of December.

This weather, though I know it won’t, can hold out until March as far as I’m concerned.  I’ll take it!

I got out of the house, took a nice ride into Fairfield, and got to spend a little time with my dear friend and unparalleled Garden Guru, Mike, to just relax and chat things up a bit.  I brought him some hot sauce, some tomato sauce.  It’s especially cool to share the garden goodies with Mike, as this garden would never have happened without his friendship and tutelage.  I’m serious when I tell you, this guy can grow rocks.  With his guidance, and my tendency to run amok with scissors, I was able to put up a banner batch of sauces, and I’m growing vegetables in my house during a Connecticut winter.

When I got home that afternoon, I took a walk through the garden as I always do, as I was taught to do.  “The Garden” is now three broccoli plants, a potted parsley, and a pot full of garlic bulbs on the enclosed porch. It isn’t much, compared to the bucket jungle I grew Outside this summer, but still, it’s a garden.  It’s my garden.  The plants are growing a little slowly, because of the colder temperatures, but they are growing, thriving.  That is heady, exciting stuff.

And weren’t my plant friends excited about the first signs of life coming from the garlic pot!

Here’s how it went….

“Hello, my gorgeous green boys!  You’re looking healthy today!”


“We’re good,”  Bud responded.   “The sun feels extra good today.”

“It sure does, Bud.  Nice and warm out here.”

“What do you call these again?  These clear things that the sun shines through?”

“These are windows.  They’re sort of like the portal to Outside, but they’re made of glass instead of wood.  They let heat and light shine through, and will magnify the sun’s heat a little bit.”

“Do they…open?  Yeah, that’s the word.  Open, like the Portal?”

“Ah, well.  Sort of.  These are very old windows, they only open up a couple of inches.  For bringing in fresh air, ir’s better to open the door.  The Portal.”

As I turned to get clothes from the little apartment sized dryer I have camped out on the porch, Drake chimed in.

“Are you going to turn on the summer Machine?”

Summer machine?  Can’t wait to hear this one.  Broccoli have an unusual take on life…

“Summer Machine?  Can you expand on that, Drake?”

“That’s what Reggie called it.  That box you’re taking your leaves out of.  Reggie says it’s the Summer Machine because it makes the room all warm and steamy, and makes it feel like summer.”

“My leaves?  Oh!  The dryer! You had me for a moment there.”


“Yes, this is called a dryer.  I wash my clothes in the sink, then bring them in here, put them into the dryer, to get them dry.  This is vented into a little box with some water in it to collect lint.  That’s why it gets so warm and steamy in here when the dryer is running.  It’s blowing hot air into the water, and the warm water evaporates into the air.”

I turned to Reggie.

“Reggie, you amaze me.  Summer Machine?  That’s just brilliant.”

“Like the sun, Mama.  Like the sun.”

“You look amazing, too.  Strong!”


” How are you doing in there?”

“Well, a little pot-bound, but I’m cool.  Thanks for the shot of fertilizer the other day.  My roots thank you.  And look at our boys there!  They took that shot and ran with it.”

I looked at the broccoli, which were all now…wait, were my broccoli plants  preening?   Yes.  They were definitely preening. 

“You know, Reggie, you’re right.  These guys have grown bunches in just the last couple of days.  Drake, sorry about those leaves I had to prune.  You’re getting so tall, so fast, I had to take down those two leaves to get them off the lights.”


“It’s okay.  Reggie said it was like his hair cuts, just pruning to allow new growing.”

“Reggie, what would I do without you?”

“You’ll have me around for a while yet.  Just make with the summer machine on really cold nights.”

“I bring you Inside on really cold nights.”

“I thought you were taking Reggie away from us the other night!”  said Sprite. “I thought you were going to EAT him!”


“Well, you can see I didn’t eat him,” I said, effectively cutting the little green dramazoid off at the pass.  “I brought him Inside for the night, because it was supposed to get really cold.  You guys have the lights to give you a little extra heat, but Reggie only has the windows.  If it gets really cold at night, he could suffer.”

“You know, I really appreciate that.  It was a lot warmer, Inside.  I liked the TV.  Those guys, Phineas and Ferb, are too cool.”

“You’re headed Inside tonight and tomorrow night, too.  But I’ll bring you right back out here to your buddies when the sun comes up.”

“Works for me.  You guys okay with that?”



“You bet.”

“What’s a TV?”

“Who are Phineas and Ferb?  Are they plants?”

“Bud!  There you are.  You’ve been quiet.”


“I’m cool.  I feel good.  Um…am I supposed to still be this short?  Reggie says not to worry, but even little Sprite has outgrown me.”

“You’re perfect.  Sprite is having a growth spurt, which was expected, and Drake here is just a runner.”

  “You’re shorter, but you’re stocky.  Healthy and strong and well-developed.  Look at these buds!  You are perfect.”


“Okay, so I’m not malnourished or anything?  I feel good, but…”

“You know, Bud, I have a brother and a sister, and they are way, way taller than I am.”


“You bet!  They’re each a full head taller, just like Drake is to you.  You’re shorter and stocky, like me!”

“And you have a lot of buds,” Sprite assured him.  “I don’t have buds yet.”

“You’ll get them, little guy.  I did.  And look, Drake is getting loads of them, too.”

“They itch.”

I had to crack up at that.  I looked Sprite over, and found it…the elusive, tiny, forming side shoot.

“Sprite, I think I see a bud.  Right….here!”


Well, that got his attention.  Have you ever seen a broccoli strain to turn his head and look down?  They can’t.  You know they can’t, they’re broccoli.  So, I ticked the new bud.

“Tee-heeheehee!!!  That tickles!”

“See?  You have a tiny new side shoot.  A bud.  Isn’t that exciting?”

“It is!  I have a bud!  It’s tiny, but I have a bud!  Wait.  Tiny…”

Oh, Boy, now what.  This guy is so emotional…

“TINY!”  Sprite burst out.  “Wait!  I forgot to tell you!  Look at the garlic!”

Have you ever seen a broccoli quiver?  Sprite did.  He was fairly quivering with excitement at his news.  I turned and looked, and there it was!  A brand new, tiny garlic sprout had finally broken the surface of the soil.  I knew they were sprouting, because I’ve been peeking, gently digging down to see if they were coming along, or if they were just rotting in there, but I had not expected that one would shoot up and break soil this fast. 

“Well, will you look at that!  The garlic is sprouting!”


 “Thank you for showing me, Sprite!”

“I saw it this morning.  I couldn’t wait to tell you, but then we got distracted…”

“But you did tell me!  This is wonderful!  Garlic to keep you all company!”

“Can I name this one?  Pleeeeeeease?”  If a broccoli could jump up and down, this one would be doing hand stands.

“Of course you can name this one.  What would you like to call it?”

“Tiny.  I want to call this one, ‘Tiny,’ because it is.”

“Well, then, Tiny it is.  You guys will be busy coming up with names, you know.  I planted eighteen cloves of garlic.”

“Eighteen?  What’s an eighteen?”

“It’s a number.  You broccoli plants make one, two, three,” I explained as I touched each one in turn.   “When you add Reggie here,”  I went on, brushing my hand over his dreads, (and did my parsley just purr?)   “…you all come to four plants.  I planted eighteen cloves of garlic.”

“That’s a LOT!”

“It sure is.  I had a big pot, and didn’t know how many would germinate, so I planted a lot.  We’ll see how many names you have to come up with.”

“So, there will be more?”

Yes, there will be more.  How many more, time will tell.  But I know I saw others sprouting under the surface.  How many will make it, I don’t know yet.”

“Oh, I hope they all make it,”  Drake said.  “It’ll be like a party.”

“Yeah!”  Bud chirped.  “Reggie’s been looking forward to this garlic!”

“Garlic, parsley and broccoli were meant to be together.”

“Ohhhh, yeahhhhhh,”  Reggie smoothed out.

“Okay Guys, I’m going to fire up that summer machine now, and dry some clothes.”

“It smells nice.”

“What smells nice, Sprite?”

“The summer machine.  I like the way it smells.”

“Me, too.  It smells like clean clothes.  Soap and fabric softener.”

“What’s fabric softener?” 

“Can I put it on my leaves?” 

“What’s fabric?” 

“How come you have different leaves every day?”

And that, my friends, is another story.  I’m really excited about the garlic!  I can’t wait to see what kinds of personalities they have.

I’ll keep you posted….




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