Friday, September 05, 2008


My plants seem to be multiplying. In the past few weeks, I've acquired no less than seven new plants, bringing my household total up to ten. (There would be eleven, but I lost one basil plant to a kitten-induced fall from a bookshelf.) It gives me a great deal of pleasure to take care of my plants; the daily (or semi-daily) tasks of watering, providing sunlight and an adequately sized pot for these small lives makes me feel incredibly happy, like my life has a purpose beyond my own. That sounds a little intense for simple plant maintainance, but in truth these plants would die without me if left to their own devices in my apartment. It also makes me feel good because my plant history has a sizeable graveyard in it for all the plants that I've overwatered, under-cared-for, and otherwise led to their dooms. (I'm trying to tell myself now to resist the urge to water them so frequently, hoping that maybe it will teach me a little damn patience already.) So it makes me expecially happy that recently, my won-lost ratio is improving.
I've been thinking a lot in the past six months or so about how much I've always loved plants and the plant world, and how maybe I want to learn more about horticulture and grow plants for a living. Without my even realizing it, plants form a thread that stretches throughout my whole life (more or less). I remember spending so much time helping my mom and grandmother in their respective gardens, planting and weeding and picking and watering. One of my favorite ever smells is that of the tomato vine. In middle school, I thought I wanted to be a botanist because I loved learning about plants and their uses. Now I realize that maybe what I love is the growing of plants, their lives and folklore, and not their biology so much.
In addition to the plants that I've picked up here and there, I also recently germinated a seed for the first time in countless years. Maybe three years ago, a friend sent me something called a matchstick garden, a large matchbook filled with strips of cardboard with wildflower seeds glued to their tips. Finally, I've gotten around to planting a few of them, and there are tiny green shoots poking their way out of the ground. Every time I look at them, I think: Isn't this amazing? Seeds look so lifeless, but you put them in the ground and add water and they turn into living things. This phenomenon has played an incalculably large part in the history of the world, and we take it for granted. How many people appreciate seeds, take the time to plant them and witness the results? If birth is a miracle, so is germination.

1 comment:

madeleine said...

Recently, I've been trying to give plants as gifts, especially to people who work in plant-less offices. I get so frustrated with feeling that I'm giving a gift that's just going to sit around somewhere, unnecessary and unwanted (stuffed animals, anyone?) so food (i.e., chocolate) tends to be a popular choice these days, but I think it's often a good thing to give or receive a plant - as you say, the act of watering it gives one a moment for reflection on our ability to offer sustenance to other living things.