When folks contemplate life in the big city they think of vaguely offensive art instillations and great Ethiopian food and bars that stay open all night. They do not think about the day when an itchy green thumb will leave them with a burning desire to go to Home Depot. Despite the general lack of space for big box stores there are actually multiple Home Depots in the greater New York City area including one on 23rd St in Manhattan where the door men wear company themed three piece suits complete with a bright orange stripe down the side of each pant leg -- this was my father's favorite thing about New York during his one, and likely only, visit. My trip, however, was to the Home Depot on Northern Blvd in Queens where the large parking lot and numerous car dealerships within spitting distance could lead one to mistake the city for the suburbs. But make no mistake, this incarnation of the big orange building supply store is nothing if not New York City gruff. I walked to the Home Depot which took about 30 minutes and is certainly something that I would not have done if I resided in the suburbs since the roadways would be sidewalkless. Score one for urban living.
When I arrived at Home Depot there were no carts in sight. I hiked around the parking lot, peaked behind the decking display and walked through the front doors trying to look all "hey, I need a cart, someone point me to the cart section." all in vain and eventually was reduced to talking to a Home Depot employee. She directed me back out to the parking lot where I was forced to stalk customers coming out of the exit doors. I rejected the first abandoned cart because it had no back and I could not picture myself successfully pushing this peninsula of a vehicle down the store aisles without ending up buried under a tumbling pile of plants, fertilizer and terracotta at my first hard stop. I spied a cart without any obvious bodily harm in a distant corner of the lot and managed to seize it before another desperate shopper pounced. It turned out this cart was also broken -- Home Depot clearly does not value its Queen's customer base-- but only in the child seat section and even if I had brought a toddler with me I'd have surly traded it for a cart by now anyway. I entered the store.
After stocking up on red yellow and orange dahlias, daisies and ranunculuses(who loves a theme? I do! I do!) I headed indoors for the more practical needs -- pots and soil. The far wall of the Garden Center that clearly once had potting soil stacked up to the ceiling was completely empty, apparently the whole of New York City is gaga for gardening -- either that or someone had a lot of bodies to bury. Since I'm currently reading In Defense of Food and have learned that modern produce has fewer nutrients than produce from my mother's childhood (Seriously? Fuck you, apples.) likely at least partially due to the chemicals in modern fertilizers so I was totally prepared to spend vast quantities of money on organic soil but staring at the empty wall and contemplating a midweek return to the hell of Home Depot I would have gladly compromised on straight nitrogen and horse poop -- alas, no luck. You're likely thinking that surely some other, less evil, closer to home, retail business must be willing to sell me vast quantities of potting soil but you would be very very wrong. My best back up for Home Depot is buying my soil in 2lb quantities from the florist near home at a cost of 8 billion dollars. Home Depot was also out of window boxes, small plastic planters and drainage dishes. Awesome.
When I arrived at the register the jade plant that I had hoped to brighten up my living room with was pricetagless. Rather then burden herself with a price check the salesgirl told me to go back to the plant section on the other side of the store and find a plant with a label. I love a scavenger hunt, really, but I usually prefer that winning be rewarded with a better prize than "the opportunity to give a huge corporation $3 for a tiny plant." I located the jade plants and, behaving as is I were on The Amazing Race shoved aside other shoppers and dug through the display rejecting all of the 5 unmarked plants, I may have also whispered "train? choochoo? andale!" under my breath, it's all a little fuzzy now. Anyway I finally found a plant that was ready to buy and sprinted up to the checkout again pushing past other shoppers giving me the stink eye for cutting in line. $129 later I was exiting the store to throngs of shoppers looking to lay hands on my cart. Circle of Life, bitches.
Armed with way more flowers than one could carry I needed a ride home and since my one friend with a car was busy I was going to have to get this ride home from a complete stranger. I'll pause here for a moment while my country kin take a time out to wonder if I have any good stuff that they could lay claim to after my death. This being New York City I figured, correctly, that just outside of the exit (beyond the cart hungry hordes) would be 3 or 4 guys standing around asking people if they needed a ride home. My driver today was a large Hispanic man who could definitely kill me with his bare hands if he wanted to but I wasn't concerned until we got his car -- a White Ford Windstar minivan with a "Te Amo Jesus" license plate frame. Legit car services do not drive anything other than black town cars with ripped interior upholstery and 3x4 inch flags from African countries hanging from the rear view mirror. So even though my driver seemed like a nice enough guy (despite repeatedly calling me "baby") I sketched out a brief contingency plan involving a tumble out the side door to the relative safety of the asphalt should things take a turn for the worst. Luckily it never came to that, I arrived home both alive and without any road burns.
And now? My flowers and seeds and herbs are stuffed into their containers and we'd all be ready for spring if it weren't for the dreary weather that has, of course, taken over the city. At least I have an excuse to tromp around in my cute rain boots.