Stephen and I spent many weekends with our Dad in the greenhouses where he worked at the Geneva branch of Cornell's Agricultural Experiment Station. Our mother must have appreciated those afternoons when we went with Dad, although she was just as often there too, as his faithful assistant. The smells and textures of a greenhouse are so lovely: the rich chocolatey soil, soft as silk; the crunchy white peat; the rotten-egg stench of sulfur blocks. Stephen and I would bring our cars and drive them on the concrete walkways. We'd take frequent trips into different rooms of the long row of greenhouses, which were barren on weekends but never dark, saturated with the flourescent glow of artificial light competing with the sun streaming in the dirty glass.
I dream sometimes still of greenhouses. Of dark brown dirt running between my fingers, of the periodic hiss of the radiator and the chug of the automatic watering system kicking in. Of tables and tables in room after room of living things--brown sticks of apple trees, purple cabbages, and lush green tomato plants.