This past school year, I had a student in my 10th grade English class who, to put it in the mildest terms possible, had a problem respecting women. It was hoes this and hoes that all day long. At first, I took it as him not knowing any better, and I’d correct him, letting him know that term was unacceptable every time he had an outburst. Eventually, I moved on to a more hardline approach, booting him from the classroom every time his misogyny flared up. After a few months, it was clear that I wasn’t making any progress as a hardass, so I started considering the problem as a gardener.
One day, I walked into the classroom, and my student asked, as he was wont to do: “Hey Carpenter, where the hoes at?”
“They’re in my garden shed,” I told him, cheerily. “Thanks for asking.”
It was the first of many times we had the exchange, which, to a certain extent, we both delighted in. By the end of the school, I believe the word’s meaning was changing in his mind, and every time it slipped out of his mouth, he’d have to think of me, digging up weeds in my garden.
I was thinking of my student last week, when I went out to my garden shed, moved aside my hoes and other tools, and reached for that special lady in my life, the kombucha mother that had been incubating in my shed since April. She was brown, thick, and slimy, bubbling gently as she floated atop my jar of starter tea.
“It’s your big day, girl,” I whispered, leading her into the kitchen, where I’d already set out all of my ingredients and was ready to brew an enormous pot of green tea.
I tossed in teabag after teabag while kombucha mama settled the to the bottom her her jar and watched the proceedings from the kitchen counter, no doubt swelling with maternal pride, yeast, and bacteria.
Like last time, I sugared up my tea and added it to a jar, though this time on a much larger scale.
Mother settled down at the bottom of the jar, and started munching sugar. I knew those two had a lot of catching up to do.
A week later, I went out to the shed to catch up with the two of them. They’d grown together so much, it was hard to tell them apart. In another three weeks, junior will be ready to start a family of her own, and I, happily, will drink them up.