Now, my mother has the original green thumb. She could grow a rose bush in the middle of Death Valley. No lie. She gives Jax all the credit but honestly, it’s not all him. No one would ever guess that in back of Hawthorne’s around the corner of the delivery entrance is this amazing herb garden. The best word to describe it is verdant—lush, and leafy and green. Incredible for such a small space. There are Roma tomatoes, basil, chives, tarragon, oregano, lemon grass, and as the old song goes, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. There are also your less conventional plants such as comfrey, skullcap, belladonna, dock and yarrow. The less enlightened consider some of these weeds. The healers know different since the right combination for a poultice can be very powerful. There are others, too, but I can’t keep it straight.
I led Angelina over to the herb garden. Sure enough, my mother was bent over her plants like some champion horticulturist examining each individual leaf of, say, the marjoram. However, as we got close I noticed something hovering in front of her and I thought, oh no, this is going to freak Angelina out. I assumed it was Jax then realized it wasn’t Jax, not that it mattered. No, it mattered. Had it been Jax he wouldn’t have been so sloppy.
At any rate, I stopped and abruptly turned, ready to guide Angelina away, but it was too late. She already had her hand over her mouth and was staring with eyes as big as saucers.
It wasn’t because my mother was singing to the plants. My mother believes in the magic of music, which is why it’s hard for her to listen to our heavy metal Sinatra. No, Angelina saw the hovering, too.
Jax appeared and ushered the other pixie off in a flash.
“Oh, a butterfly,” I said kind of lamely.
My mother doesn’t usually get caught unaware. She has a pretty good sense of what’s going on around her ninety-nine percent of the time. Once “in a blue moon, though, she gets surprised, and today was that blue moon. First The Bad Apple and now this.
“No, a hummingbird,” she said and quickly stood so she partially blocked our view of the garden. Like that mattered at this point.
Angelina didn’t buy it from either one of us. “I saw a face.”
“Isn’t that a line from a Beatles song?”
Without hesitation she whipped her hand sideways and slapped me in the gut. “Hummingbirds don’t have faces,” Angelina said. “And neither do butterflies.”
“Oh dear,” my mother said. “I wonder if Mickey put pot leaves in the oregano again. I’d better have Manuel check.”
“I am not on drugs, Mrs. H.”
I thought she was going to stomp her foot, but apparently she was still too shell-shocked.
“What I saw was like a little person with wings,” Angelina added. “A fairy or pixie or something.” Then another thought hit her. “That wasn’t an obnoxious bug in the restaurant, was it? It was an aggravated sprite.”
The gig was up. . . . Angelina had just seen her first pixie.