Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wherein I reveal myself to be a crazy plant lady...

(Apologies for the cross post)

I'm a sucker for mornings. My house, a rarity in the tightly packed neighborhoods of Buffalo, has only backyards on either side of it (it is behind another house). The sunlight pours in throughout the day, switching sides of the house, switching rooms.

In the morning it hits my bedroom, gently nudging me out of my sheets so I can find what, for me, is often a breathtaking site: my home office, with its wooden table, bathed in brightness. As I write this, my desk is covered in a rectangular patch of sunlight; the window looks out on the building a few doors down. I've been told it was a dairy, now it is home to a Burmese family. The back half remains vacant.

Because the house is behind another house, there is no backyard. It is on the backyard. For this reason, I have attempted to grow a jungle of houseplants inside by the windows, and have only recently begun fiddling with the patch of grass we have between the two homes. I started my house-jungle with the ficus and Christmas cactus that had both survived my post-college moves and abandonment. Brynn gave me a branch of her enormous jade tree and last fall, with a $50 gift card to Lowe's left over from my June birthday, I brought home all the sickly and marked-down plants I could fit in my car.

For months now, I've done battle with one of these plants. It sits on my desk, close to the window I am at right now. I refer to it in my head as the Crazy Plant but according to the information card it came with, it goes by "jellybean plant," sedum, or Aurora Borealis (yeah, I did a double take on that last one too). It is a succulent, therefore more delicate than my viney and leafy darlings, and I've been a bit obsessed with its well-being.

Its little jellybean leaves are very fragile and often fall off when I touch them. As the plant has grown, its branches droop over the sides of the pot, with tiny white roots extending out, looking for something to plant themselves in. It has doubled its size and little miniature bunches of leaves pop up around its base; sometimes I drown them when I water the plant. A few months back, I realized that one of the drooping branches was headed on a road to nowhere so I picked it up, dropping leaves as I did it, and twisted it around another, smaller branch. It's doing ok now. After that though, I decided that unless I interfered, my Crazy Plant was going to kill itself. Each time I looked at it, I became stressed.

This morning though, after a week away on vacation, I came into the office and found the plant and its companion, another jade, thriving in my absence. I don't have much to explain for my sudden change of heart--my mellowing out about its obviously natural characteristics--but I now love the Crazy Plant. I suppose I always loved it, hence my obsession with its health, but now I love that it is crazy. It droops over the sides, in what I assumed was vain, but instead of dying, it just adapted. New branches have sprung from the side of the drooping branch. It's green and solid and really beautiful in its chaotic growth.

I've been sort of having a hard time lately, feeling like I can't see the path ahead of me as clearly as I'd like. This morning I am laughing at myself, at my obsession over this house plant's path--a sort of small example of my worry, unfairly placed on this lovely little succulent and its growth process. I don't really know what zen means to other people but to me it means letting the chaos of life wash over me, taking moments to notice the way a plant grows and apply that same lesson to my life. I'm going to be zen about this plant from now on, and I'm going to try to be zen about me.

I'm a sucker for mornings.

3 comments:

Bijou said...

What a pleasure to read this post. Thanks for taking the time to write your thoughts down for us.

My plant life is in a good place. I have herbs and cherry tomatoes growing on my balcony alongside other potted annuals, including some bright purple clematis that is climbing and blooming! Indoors I have more herbs and a few ordinary houseplants, but my favorite is a rooted avocado pit that now has a stem on it over six inches long. My students and I have observed it doubtfully since about March. Healthy plants really are about patience and, like you said, zen.

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Rebecca said...

I want a plant.