Saturday, June 14, 2008

For the love of plants

RK and I, we talk to our plants.
Recently, I suggested we set up a small photo studio corner and take the equivalent of a "senior portrait" of each one: these members of our family. We haven't done it yet, but we have been taking pictures of them for years.

I'm not sure when this love of plants began, but I know it was definitely cultivated (pun intended) by the time that RK spent working with his Aunt. He learned the ins-and-outs of the world of these creatures. He's passed a great deal of that on to me. Maybe it's because he knows I feel the same way he does about each of these plants: they're living, breathing miracles and we get to take care of them. It's not true of all plants, of course, some come into your life you kinda can't wait to get rid of...but you don't just throw a plant out. That would be cruel. You wait around 'til it (oops!)dies naturally, or you hope that you can give it to a good home. Someone who loves plants as much as you do, but unconditionally.

We dote on our plants. Besides talking to them like they're our friends, we compliment them like crazy and watch them grow. We name most all of them (I realize we haven't named them all when a friend comes over and says, 'what's this one named?' ummmm....
'okay, what's this one's name?' ....shoot.)

My personal love for plants was sealed when RK and I happened upon a classic sidewalk sale, just around the corner from our apartment, on Downing Street in NY. We got to talking to the husband and wife, who were probably in their 80's, about the plants they were selling. Which led us to being invited inside this amazing, wacky, one of a kind, only in new york apartment. They had plants that were through the ceiling. They'd had them for years, for all the years they were married. A lot of years. We were in awe of the size of the plants and the obvious love and care that these two had for plants, in general. They talked to us about how this one or that one went thru a 'troubled' time (maybe a root issue) but fought thru and look at it now! We related completely.

I hadn't done plants in the apartment since the time I let a friend stay there and put her in charge of my flower beds on the fire escape. When I came back, a few weeks later, there was a note of thanks on the table and a fire escape full of dead flowers. Scorched, really, by the seemed not a drop of water had been added to them in my absence. I decided to let my green thumb go.

When RK and I moved from NYC to CA, we drove across Canada with a box of potted plants in the back seat. It was a sight to be seen. All these plants, thriving, with a seat belt securing their ride. At night, after we'd checked into a hotel, one of us would sneak out to the car and bring in the plants. They needed to be watered and tended to. Some of them, it seemed, needed a pep talk between the long driving days. They all survived the trip...until we got to the U.S. border.

The border patrol asked us the normal questions: Do you have a gun? What were you doing in Canada? Where are you going in the U.S.? And it wasn't until some patrolman, cruising around our car, noticed the plants in the back seat that we became suspicious. We were asked to pull over and bring out the plants. When faced with authority I find unfair, I get talk-y. Sooooo, I started talking..."we brought these from nyc, they were never out of our sight, we've raised them from little, sickly plants, please just let us go through, what's the problem? they're just plants!" The problem was you can't bring certain kinds of plants over the border. One, in particular, was a wee lemon tree named Joyce (after the sidewalk-sale wife in ny). They whisked her away and told us she needed to be destroyed. I started crying right there. My begging had no effect on these guys. In fact, one of them sneered, "you said yourself, lady, they're just plants." It was devastating. There was no way I was going to convince these thugs what those plants really were to us. Defeated, we climbed back into our car and started to drive away.

We had to look on the bright side, we still had a good number of our plants with us.
And we still do, to this day. Let me introduce you to just a few...

this is Betty

this is Sadie

this is Sanchez

and this, is Dr. Fingers


Laura said...

A friend and I cultivated two miniature potted plants in our dorm this year. They turned out to be weeds, but they were awesome. We look forward to getting some legitimate plants next school year.

Also, Dr. Fingers is possibly the best name for a plant I've ever heard.

Anonymous said...

Molly...This is a wonderful story. I relate to plants like you do. I have some very unhappy looking, OLD geraniums that should probably be tossed long as there is one green leaf on the stem, I can't even think about getting rid of I keep resuscitating them. What's a person to do when they don't believe in euthanasia????

Plant Lady

Ellen said...

I like the pot Sadie lives in. I've just started being an indoor plant person and I'm determined to take proper care of the plants I bought recently. I think there is some incredibly healthy and necessary energy that exist to having plants in your home.

comfies said...

ha, now i understand what was really going on that one time you offered me up one of your plants! you were hoping i had the "unconditional love" thing. trouble is, my green thumb has been waning. i think i've lost my touch.

Christina said...

i'm so proud to have some spawn of betty. and i adore that mr.fingers!

Christina said...

oh i mean dr.fingers!!