The presence of plants

When I discovered that plants were made of the same spirit as I am, it occurred to me that they might very well have souls, too. The spirits of trees, grass, and other plant life is so dense where I live, I see them in abundance, and can hear and feel their life force. Indoors, I can also feel their absence, so I learned container gardening to surround myself with that feeling all the time. When I lived in a condominium, every spring I would dress my deck in anything that flowered and bloomed in the sun. I was so plant smitten that when I spotted a potted plant (to honor my plants, I will someday figure out their names, but for right now, they are all called “plant”) placed next to the dumpster, I had to rescue it. Evidently, people had moved out and decided to throw it away. It was perfectly healthy so I adopted it. The plant fit in well with all the others and flourished.

When I moved to a townhouse, I recaptured the decadence on that deck. Each spring, nearly every square foot was occupied with something growing. I left enough space for a small table and two chairs so I could sit outside and enjoy that abundance. In the late fall, just before the first frost, I would gather them all inside and nurture them throughout the winter. The plant I had rescued grew to the point where I had to separate it into three separate plants.

Then, I moved again — during the blizzard that paralyzed Washington DC and Maryland this past February. I got just about everything into storage and the place where I am living, except the plants. There was not enough space for all of the plants, so some had to be left outside. Exhausted from moving, I left some of the larger plants in my car overnight, intending to find space for them inside the next day. One of those was the plant I had rescued from the dumpster.

By morning, though, that plant was frozen. Its leaves were limp and dark. One of the plant’s offspring I had left in the car nearly suffered the same fate, but it still had some bright green leaves. I felt awful about leaving that plant to freeze to death. I remembered reading a proverb that once you save someone’s life, you are responsible for that person. I had rescued the plant, and I was responsible for seeing that it survived. Now, I had failed it.

All the rest of the winter and into the spring, I consoled myself with the fact that two of its offspring survived. But I would still look at that dead plant with its now brown shriveled leaves and regret that I had not taken the time that night to at least drag it into the garage. I kept the soil moist by watering it when I watered the other plants because I had full intentions of transplanting one of the offspring into that container.

The warm days finally arrived last week. I took all of the surviving plants outside and cleaned out the debris from the dead plant. As I pulled the dry and brittle leaves away, I saw tiny sprouts of green at the base of the stalks.

The plant was not dead.

Somehow, it had survived my neglect and bad decision, and kept enough of itself alive until the sun and my occasional watering gave it strength to grow again.

People say, “it’s just a plant.”

But it is also life and a lesson remembered.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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9 Responses to “The presence of plants”

  1. holessence Says:

    Barbara – WOW! I’ve got goosebumps on my arms. What a wonderful story — thank you so much for sharing it!

    Laurie Buchanan
    http://holessence.wordpress.com/

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Laurie — I am really just so grateful that my plant survived; I check on it daily out back. Jonathan says if I keep poking at it, it will shrivel back up. So, I am going to let it rest in the sun, water, and probably a few vitamins here soon.

  2. Snoopykg1 Says:

    Boy oh Boy I needed this one and I am in tears,,,,
    I read the story without knowing the ending, but I thought that it; was goingn to ,come back to life….It gave me goosebumps in the fact that there were so many things in my life regressed, almost dead. The life is slowly coming back and I am like a little sprout still finding the way back to myself!

    A beautiful story

    Kim

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Kim — yes, it is more life imitating life! And, what you say is true, that even when life regresses, when there is life, it will come back. All of you is still there waiting to grow again.

  3. sandiwhite Says:

    Barbara, you knew you had me as soon as I saw the title! I’ve had a love affair with plants ever since I grew my first white bean in a baby food jar when I was 4. My Mom was sorting dried beans to cook and she showed me how to plant one, pressed against the glass, give it water, and Behold! A Miracle! It was a live and growing! To this day, I am still pretty much the same way, my life and living revolves around plants. Although I knew that they were alive and needed certain elements to thrive and do well, I had not considered them above an almost mechanical-chemical reaction to certain stimuli. Sometime in the 70’s I read a book called the “Secret Life of Plants” that opened up a whole new concept for me, not only were they aware of their surroundings but actually reacted to kindness, benevolent and positive thought, and were flowing with a Life Force that is little understood by M an. I dug a little deeper and discovered the community of Findhorn, the now world famous settlement on the coast of Scotland and began using some of their principles in growing. Although I have always had a “green thumb”, it’s true, some people really do, I am now considered a plant doctor or a plant whisperer. And the first thing I always want to know is, Is the plant comfortable? Now, I’ll be the first to admit to having killed my share of good plants from neglect, but someone who will take the time and effort to coax back to life a plant that was teetering on the brink of being and not being, has more than a green thumb, they have a good heart, capable of seeing and respecting the Life Force in all the Universe’s manifestations. I love and name my plants too, and address them name as I work with them, they like it. I talk to them at work, at home, where ever I think it matters and laugh at the people that laugh at me. Oh, and they love to be petted!

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Sandi — I will need to work on petting my plants, too. I bought some New Guinea impatients and begonias today. Dressing up the patio out back.

      For some reason, it did not bother me so much that other plants died from the move . . . just the one I saved. It is that responsibility factor. And I know what you mean about the plant being comfortable; sometimes, I can just look at a plant after a couple of weeks when I have placed it somewhere and I know it is not doing well there and needs to be moved. I do know they give me a lot of joy and one of the things I am missing right now is how I used to sit outside on my deck in the mornings and write surrounded by my plants. I am hoping to recreate something similar here.

  4. Snoopykg1 Says:

    Thanks Sandi
    – was thinking about when I read this!

    Petting plants? I will have to try thay one!

    Kim

    http://butterfliesgalore.wordpress.com

  5. sandiwhite Says:

    Barbara, plants just naturally give off a aura of calm and soothing quietness that I enjoy after the ruckus of the day. When I am working at my own pace in my flower beds, I can experience a type of tranquility that is eases me off of the running and jumping and yelling we get to do on the job. Chem-free tranquilizers.

  6. the presence of love « Eternal Presence Says:

    […] I notice my love when I am tending my plants . . . especially the one that I thought I had killed last winter (see the presence of plants). […]

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