From the Back Nine: Confession of a plant thief

I’m not a law breaker. In fact, I’m so far from it that I might not know if I was breaking the law.

This explains why I stole plants last spring. At least, I think I did.

Sis is an online bargain hunter. She found camellia bushes at such a remarkable price we bought four of them. All we had to do was pick up and plant. Easy peasy.

We drove to the appointed place at the appointed time. It was an apartment building without a garden in sight. Hmmm. After circling the block several times seeking pink blossoms and slick dark leaves, I surrendered. I entered the apartment building parking lot.

The sign on the apartment door should have been a second clue that all was not well in the garden. “DO NOT KNOCK. CALL FIRST.”

Of course, I’d forgotten my cell phone. After a moment of dithering, I did knock but very lightly. Nothing offensive.

Mongo threw open the door, his eyes cutting left then right searching out the SWAT team I’d brought along. I’m tall, but Mongo towered.

“Hello, sir,” I squeaked. “I’m here about — ”

“Get in here.”

He didn’t touch me, but I felt dragged through a portal to the dark side. Except, in this case, the dark side was pretty in pink. Camellia bushes filled the living room. Around them were other natural wonders like fig trees and magnolias.

“Wow! Where did you raise all these?” I asked, naïve as a Cabbage Patch doll.

“Get ‘em and get out,” Mongo growled. I guessed he was not a chatty kind of guy.

I hauled the four bushes fast as I could from apartment to car. Mongo did not help, being on guard duty as he was. Sis in the passenger seat showed the good sense to stay there, seatbelt locked at the ready.

On the highway home, I said, “That man sure loves pink flowers.”

Sis said, “That man doesn’t own them.” She used an unpleasant word regarding my brainpower.

I gasped, “You mean?”

“Yes. We’ve trafficked in stolen landscaping.”

“Should I take them back?”

She just stared at me. Of course, you don’t return stolen goods to a guy like Mongo. And you sure don’t ask for your money back.

This spring, the camellias are blooming in profusion in my yard. They know they’re loved. I occasionally picture four empty holes somewhere downstate still awaiting their bushes. I then think shame on me for trusting in low prices. Then I tell myself they weren’t stolen, just some sort of camellia overstock sale by Mongo. I have no proof otherwise.

Mostly, when I look at these pops of pink announcing spring is here, I overcome any angst regarding my life of crime, begun in my seventh decade. In fact, if Mongo has any cheap Cherokee dogwoods …

Linda B. Myers is the author of 10 novels, including “Starting Over Far Away,” available at Port Book and News, Pacific Mist and Amazon. You can reach her at