A Seedling worth a Dollar

Life can just flow around you in the most natural way, until some casual mistake exposes the underlying rocks under the water…

Everything seemed so nice and easy this Saturday, the first day of Ramadan, with the prisoners’ hunger strike over, that we couldn’t find anything more important to do than to buy some seedlings to plant in the small garden around our house for the summer.

We went to a big nursery out of the town and started looking for our preferred plants. Iris asked one of the shop attendants where we can find seedlings of garden vegetables. He pointed to a big greenhouse where there were tables full of seedlings of flowers, and said that we can find some vegetables under the tables. “Would you come and help us pick some?”  She asked. “No,” was the answer, “just pull them out of their packages.”

We picked some seedlings of green chard and pepper from well packed trays that were apparently flown in from some remote industrial nursery. Looking farther under the tables we found some watermelon and cauliflower seedlings thrown in disorder on a big tray and picked some of them. With our modest bounty we went to the cashier.A seedling worth a dollar

The man there was clearly disturbed by what he has seen. He pointed at one watermelon seedling and told us with admonition: “This seedling is worth a dollar!”

“Ok,” I replied, “we are going to pay for it.”

“No,” he said, “this seedling costs ME a dollar.”

It didn’t impress me as a very shocking price, but I noticed that there was a small plastic tied to the seedling. Then the man went on to explain.

“These watermelon seedlings are not for sale. We brought them as we want to grow watermelons in our field. They are especially grafted. They cost me a dollar each.” He lamented again, not knowing what to do.

We apologized, said that we were sent by the shop attendant to pick our own seedlings from under the tables, and couldn’t know that those are not for sale. The person at the cashier, probably the owner of the nursery, admitted his negligence and continued to explain the severity of the situation.

“You will not find such seedlings for sale in any nursery. If you plant them you could grow really good watermelons. Not like the watermelons that don’t really grow from the seedlings that you can buy in the nurseries. They cost a dollar each.”

Then he asked: “Do you know how to grow watermelons?”

“Well, I was born on a farm.” I told him, reassuring. He was a bit relieved.

In the end we paid for our fifteen or so seedlings, including the three holy watermelon seedlings that cost a dollar each, the sum of 30 shekel, less than 10 dollars.

We planted two of them in our garden and gave one to the neighbour, just because we don’t have space in our small garden for three really good watermelon plants. Would the owner of the nursery known it his shock might have been even deeper.