[“Golden Dandelions” – Barns Courtney]
The birds and the bees, fascinating right? No, you perv, get your head out of the gutter. I am speaking of the literal, not the figurative… Nature, it’s awesome. I feel most at peace when I get to walk through rustling trees, sit on a jetty and listen to the sound of the ocean crashing against the shore, lay in a hammock and feel the breeze, or stop and smell every single flower and revel in their colors and intricacies…
I find myself frequently seeking the company of “alternative” living things, instead of people (no offense, it’s an introvert thing). Within these spaces and circumstances, I can feel entirely myself. I don’t have to worry about garnering the attention of people who will potentially judge me, I can just be. I really have come to the conclusion that this is why I like plants and animals so much… Even if they are judging me, I wouldn’t really know (#introvertproblems).
I Have FEELINGS…
I’ve mentioned before, I love emphatically… I love with passion and zeal. Even outside of a romantic relationship… If we are friends, particularly if we hang out, I love you. I mean it in the most open and honest way (and definitely not in a creepy one). I value your very existence and will have nothing but your best interest at heart unless you prove (likely several times over, just to drive it home) to me that you aren’t worth it. Even then, I probably won’t hate you. I simply won’t expend emotional energy on you.
Up until these past few months, I was mainlining much of my love into a specific person. Now that that option is no longer one I wish to pursue, for the sake of my own sanity, I feel like my insides have become the Hoover Dam for all the damn (intended) love that, unfortunately, has slowed to a trickling flow based on my new circumstances. So, where do I direct the excess?
I’ve always been given a hard time for how much I enjoy animals. I’ve been moved to tears by a stray dog, and have had to be talked off ledges of mass adoption when I see even just one cat in need. I have a recurring dream that one of the squirrels running across Haverford’s campus will one day just scurry up and rest on my shoulder, claiming me as his person. It’s a real struggle for me to not be… Overzealous… when it comes to offering a living thing support. Particularly a disadvantaged one. Yes, I love humans… But humans are complicated. They won’t necessarily just make their needs known. Even I am guilty of skirting opportunities to reveal my real feelings if they seem over-complicated or excessive, despite my presence here, pouring my heart out on the regular. In contrast, animals (and, as I have been learning, plants) can’t help but be honest.
It’s in this time of love surplus (Love Surplus, band name, called it!), knowing that as I age as a single woman, the desire to take on more cats will be a urge I have to stave off as long as possible (if for no other reason than the fact that my dearest princeling, Hammie, would likely annihilate any form of competition for my affection) that I have sought alternate, yet still as openly honest, things to bestow my love on. Plants!
I’m not a crazy cat lady, but I may be a crazy plant lady. My only defense? Hey, I’m learning things! Science, bitches! I became unreasonably excited recently, when one of my cactus plants sprouted a FLOWER! A whole flower. I mean, look at that sucker:
I’m not just keeping these little dudes barely alive … I’m helping them flourish. Apparently they like my naming, pruning, preening, and re-potting, not to mention the words of encouragement I offer (yes, I talk to my plants. What they say back is none of your business!).
As I said, plants, like animals, cannot help but be overt about their needs. They exist in one of three states of being, much like we do at a base level: thriving, struggling, or dead. Though, unlike people, it’s really easy to make them happy. It’s really a perfect relationship for me at the moment. I can funnel love and care without fear of retribution and, best of all, they don’t have legs to run away.
Proud Plant Mom
It has gotten to the point where, much like I do for the aforementioned Hammie (he is pervasive, in the best possible way), I have started sharing stories about my plants. I’ll just pass this quirk off as part of my storyteller personality and rock my enthusiasm openly rather than pulling the usual card of feigned indifference. It’s cool to care!
I have a several jade plants that I have rooted and raised from leaves. I have a poinsettia that has made it, now, an entire year—from just a three leaf plant at five inches tall to a foot-and-a-half beautiful monstrosity—having now even transitioned from red to green and back again. My cactus has flowered (that sounded dirtier than I intended), my terrariums have become microcosmic rainforests, even my small succulent cuttings are producing their own offshoots now.
I even had to adopt out about ten baby jade plants, to colleagues and friends, because each one I have is growing by leaps and bounds.
Why is This Helping?
Ok Liz, so you have been extremely verbose on this topic but why is it such a big deal? So you are talking to plants… Why should we care? Well, what a good question… Bear with me and I will tell you good reader!
First, and perhaps most importantly, I have become Dave Bautista, and I am not complaining about that fact:
I value the oxygen quality within my living space. Breathing is important.
Like my Sims family taught me as an adolescent, I am fostering life, this time, in an actually important way.
All kidding aside, this hobby has truly been rewarding for me in so many ways. My ability to maintain these tiny green lives shows perseverance. It speaks to the importance of trial and error behind true education. I am refining my attention to detail, creating healthy habits, defining my passions, and garnering knowledge.
There is art and strategy behind the chaos of nature. Chaos, art, love, perseverance… kinda sounds like a metaphor for relationship growing too, huh?
Lastly, like my plants, I do not thrive in darkness (despite my propensity to dwell there mentally and my deep affection for black clothing). Therefore, like them, I am choosing to turn my face toward the sun.
As I pour my love into these tiny worlds, they have poured their vitality into me.
Photo(s): E. Campbell (2017)