04 May 2013


I think the story is that our I-don't-know-how-many-greats grandmother brought rhubarb to her new home in Alberta as a homesteading gift from her friend, Lucy Maud Montgomery. It gets divided and divided again, so that everyone has some of it in their yard. I grew up eating that PEI rhubarb from my Nan's and Mom's plants, and later my own.

The soil at this house is hard and clay-y, and dry enough that it breaks up into cubes when you dig in it. The rhubarb I planted when I first moved into this house died of that soil and neglect. One of my neighbours has done much to improve the condition of the soil in his yard and has glorious, ambitious rhubarb in his yard. I admire and envy his rhubarb.

When my sister divided her plant, she put a piece of it in a bucket for me and flang it in the back of her vehicle. It rode around in there for entirely too long before we saw each other. Then I left it on the back step and didn't plant it for way too long. It went into the ground late that summer. It didn't get much of a chance to get established as I planted it in just exactly the spot where the path ended up once it snowed, so it was trod upon all winter.

In the spring, I moved it, setting back any getting-established progress it might have made the year before. That was a dry, dry summer and I was away for the hottest part of it. Poor ol' Rhuby didn't do much that summer.  It came up the next spring, though, a bit tentatively. I sloshed rinse water from the dishes on it whenever I thought of it, and it survived the summer. Each year, it gets a little stronger, and last year, it produced a couple of edible stalks while my neighbour's grew up past door knob height and about two metres in diameter.

By the time Rhuby pokes her head out of the ground, neighbour's got a nice little mound already. Until this year. Rhuby came up at the same time! I don't expect her to have caught up, but she may actually be getting established after her rough start.

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