It happens every year when Jack Frost comes a-nipping. We have a yard full of tropical and semi-tropical plants that summer just outside our living room windows. But in the fall at the mention of cold weather, we haul them inside.
When you walk into our house, you’ll see lemon, orange, grapefruit, avocado, and mango trees as well as a ton of other plants that I challenge you to name.
Mammie, Jilda’s grandma on her father’s side of the family, had a modified storm pit that her grandpa built for storing plants in the winter. It was below ground which kept the temperature stable. It had windows on the roof and in the door that allowed enough light in for the plants to survive until spring.
We don’t have a room like that, so all our plants must come into our living room which makes life interesting for several days after the move.
Cohabiting with our green friends is not easy. Each winter when we bring them in, we have to rearrange our living space to make room for them. It takes weeks for me to stop kicking pots and getting poked in the eye by low hanging limbs.
It is not uncommon, when we move the plants inside, to bring in “guests” who’ve made their summer homes in our greenery.
Tree frogs, chameleons, spiders and all kinds of bugs, have at one time or the other, come in with our plants.
A burrowing chipmunk, hidden among the roots of our giant philodendron, found himself trapped inside.
I worked with MaBell at the time and I got a frantic call from Jilda who was standing on the kitchen table with our niece Samantha who was five at that time.
Apparently the tiny striped squirrel had come out to forage for food in the den, and had an unfortunate encounter with the girls. The two were held hostage by a menacing quadruped that was not much bigger than a well fed mouse.
I listened helplessly on the phone line as Jilda tried to shoo the little bugger out. He mounted an unexpected counter offensive and it was not going well for the home team.
They left the front door open and the tiny beast finally scurried out screeching and chattering. Jilda and Samantha were both convinced that the chipmunk had said unkind things about their linage as he darted by them.
But these close encounters with the natural world are a small price to pay for an indoor greenroom.
Plants kind of grow on you (pun intended). We’ve had some of ours for many years. I have a fichus plant that my friends at work sent when my father passed away in 1986.
Jilda has a plant that belonged to her grandmother, that was full grown when granny gave it to Ruby (Jilda’s mom) in 1964 when Lyndon Johnson was president. The citrus trees were all planted from seed by Ruby.
I really need to build a plant room suitable for our plants to thrive and survive when the mercury plunges. I’ll put that on my ever expanding to-do list. But tonight, we’re in the living room listening for jungle sounds and on the lookout for “guests.”