Sunday, October 11, 2009


In the summer months, Rob rather frequently states, “Something’s burning. I smell something burning.”

As one might suspect, it’s usually someone barbecuing in their backyard. If he smells the faintest hint of smoke, it’s a blazing inferno in his mind, so he needs to be reassured.

Knowing this, I was not surprised when he made this pronouncement on Sunday. I patted him on the back and sent him on his way. Monday morning we were getting ready for work and he said it again. This time it was followed with, “ . . .and I know what it is.” This piqued my interest, since most people don’t go through the trouble of firing up their grill for breakfast, so I trooped into the kitchen in various states of undress. He was standing outside on the deck looking anxiously at my potted plant.

Here’s the odd thing – whisps of smoke were emerging from the plant that was half the size it once was. There was nothing glowing or red or hot looking. It was just a smoking plant. Immediately I started thinking of how such a thing could happen. I put eggshells in it – spontaneous combustion?

I had to take charge. I demanded he bring me a serving spoon and the camera. We needed photographic evidence of this anomaly. As he readied the camera, I took the spoon and dug through the cremated soil. It was all ash. I looked for obvious signs of arson – a cigarette butt, a match – I found nothing. He enthusiastically took pictures.

Later I emailed my mother who had been watching Carina the previous day. She sheepishly admitted that she had ashed into the plant, but had put her cigarette out under the sink, then put it in the garbage.

Since then she has been signing her emails to me “The Arsonist.”

Let me tell you – it is a very strange thing to see your plant smoking early on a Monday morning and an odd thing to contemplate in terms of whether such a thing could burn your second story wooden deck down.

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