Although I knew later that my mother had a green thumb, it never occurred to me when I was a kid what a botanist she was. Honeysuckle in our neighborhood was edible (not all species are, that is for certain). She showed me how to open the center and taste the fragile quantities of nectar found inside.
When I was still young enough to be carrying around Happy, my mother introduced me to Mr. Peanut. Happy was my giraffe. I named him that. He was squeaky. Eventually, his neck bent, wobbled. This likely happens with most toy giraffes. Why did I name him Happy? I think now that I knew somehow that a clusterfuck would soon be unfolding. How did I know? I was so little. Happy was an early paradox.
If you split open a peanut, you reveal the cotyledon, plumule, radicle seed, and embryonic root. She didn’t explain all of this to me. What I needed to know, and what my mother said, was that there was a little man who lived in every peanut. I could see him, she explained, smiling through the demonstration. This was very special, I thought.
My mother loved when we both made polynoses. If you take a fallen, still-green fruit-seed from a maple tree and peel the sticky end open to create a flattened shape, you can put it on the bridge of your nose. Samara is the fancier word for what lots of kids in Brooklyn perhaps still call a polynose, the fibrous tissue from the maple ovary, also known as a winged achene.
I didn’t eat peanut butter on purpose and like it until I was about 27. Goobers ruined peanut butter for me. Blending peanut butter with grape jelly wasn’t my idea. Ugh. But, I always liked looking for Mr. Peanut, and ate peanuts when given the opportunity. I am glad that I didn’t seem to be worried as a child that I was hurting Mr. Peanut, or worse.