Spring Planting tells the story of two neighbours, Garnet Black and Jill Foster. Garnet, in his eighties, and Jill, in her thirties, have outlived their respective spouses. They have a lot of unspoken guilt and anger about the deaths of their partners. Garnet's grandson and Jill's daughter have their own problems. The hidden secrets among the four of them eventually spring to the surface like weeds. The result is physical and emotional violence.
Caroline: How long were you married?Garnet: More than fifty years. Caroline: Holy! Weren't you bored?Garnet: Maybe she was with me, I hope not—I was never bored with her, she was too interesting for that. Caroline: She got so small. It was scary. ..Garnet: Why she had to suffer. .. I don't hold with it. Caroline: Me neither. Garnet: Well. Part of nature, at our age. Anne always thought it'd be me first, though, thought that'd be easier, for me. Never trusted my cooking. Your mother now, she's got a lot of years. She'll be all right, Caroline. Caroline: I don't know. She won't talk about Dad. Garnet: He was too young. It was too sudden. Caroline: It's like she thinks he's coming back. That he's just gone to the store or something, like he'll overhear her if she gives up on him, or—I don't know. Did Mum water these?Garnet: Nope. Caroline: Aren't you supposed to water them as soon as you put them in?Garnet: Yep. Caroline waters her mother's rows. Caroline: I really miss Dad, but. ..Garnet: What?Caroline: She kinda won't let me. I remember all sorts of things that she doesn't. I don't know. Garnet: I remember, he had a wicked left-handed swing. One time—just after you came here, you'da been about ten—he hit his thumb with a hammer—Caroline: (Laughing. ) A hammer?Garnet: —on MacPherson's roof down the road—I thought he'd fall off he was that riled!Caroline: But he didn't, I bet!Garnet: Kept his balance good. Built good houses. Caroline: Yeah. He'd say, nothing comes free in this world, kiddo. Gotta work. It's the price we pay. Garnet: That's true. Now Caroline, speakin' about the price we pay—Caroline: I'm on the swim team this year. We're going to Owen Sound in the fall. I'm their best swimmer, that's what my coach says. Maybe I'll be famous, swim the Atlantic, wouldn't that be something? But Mum wouldn't let me, she wants me to stay in school forever and—Garnet: Need to tell you something! Need your help. Caroline: (Surprised by his cutting her off) . ..'Kay. What?Garnet: Well, the thing is. .. dammit. Women are better at these things. ..Caroline: What things?Garnet: See, Anne always did the money things, answering the mail. ...She wrote the cheques and that. Caroline: Yeah?Garnet: Thought your mother might—the thing is. .. It's a secret, sunshine. Caroline: What? Are you broke?Garnet: No, more like. .. See, I can't tell Robert, it just wouldn't be right. Caroline: Tell him what?Garnet is getting increasingly agitated. Garnet: Dammit I—see, I had to leave school for the farm. I'm not going to tell my grandson—all his degrees, his grinning face, laughing at me—Caroline: Garnet?Garnet: I—I can't read, Caroline. Caroline: . ..Really? Wow! I can't imagine not being able to read. Did people ever call you stupid?She realizes how this sounds as Garnet registers the blow. Garnet: Not till now. Jill enters from the house. Jill: I'm so excited I can't take it in. Please, you two, tell me it's real! Look at this. (Jill hands Garnet the letter, which he doesn't look at. ) We're moving to Alberta!Caroline: Alberta? What are you talking about?Jill: They called me in March, we had an interview by phone, then I didn't hear anything. They want me!Caroline: That's nuts! All my friends are here! I'm going to Owen Sound, Mum, in the fall. It's my swimming!Jill: There are pools in Alberta. You'll just have to join—Caroline: It's my team and—they're counting on me. I want to do it!Jill: Well you can't. You'll be with me. Caroline: Why didn't you tell me?Jill: I'm telling you now!Caroline: (Grabbing letter out of Garnet's hand and ripping it up. ) That's what I think of your job, Mum. Shit!Caroline runs off.
“Spring Planting charts the journeys of four people, mother and daughter, grandfather and grandson, all of them trying to find a way to make it through the confusion that ordinary life often presents. The absolute confidence of youth is paralleled with the wisdom of age in this moving story that appeals to the heart and mind without ignoring the funny bone. It's about learning to listen, trusting the truth in unlikely places, and allowing oneself to laugh again. Spring Planting was the winner of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild award and another play of Brennan's, Tiger's Heart, won the 1994 National Playwriting Competition, a remarkable accomplishment and testimony to the high regard her work commands across the nation. ”—The Ottawa Citizen