Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What have I done?

I am sitting in a house full of sad, wilted plants, feeling depressed by what I've done to them. I didn't feel sadistic when I gave them a long drink, closed all the windows and blinds, and left for two weeks, but now I have to wonder about myself. Am I very, very cruel or just very, very stupid?

The apartment was a dry sauna upon my return last night, our building's over-zealous heating system having cooked every ounce of moisture out of the place. I should have remembered how these wussy Swisstalians super-heat their places in winter. (We have not yet turned on a radiator ourselves!) For a moment before I opened the window I actually thought my skin might split. Poor little planties.

Each one coped with the neglect in its own special bruise-colored way. The kalanchoe (in fact the very same one that died last year but that I left on the porch for a while because Li's dad said it might come back and that eventually did, but kind of ug-ily), now rather street smart, put all effort into preserving its top leaves. The rest turned a soggy yellow and fell off.  The round leaves of my evidently not-impossible-to-kill plant from Germany slowly and evenly shriveled and turned brown. Live together, die together – you have to admire that spirit of camaraderie. But I love the most how my IKEA plant responded, holding onto all of its leaves, dead or alive, staying green, waiting patiently. Nothing going on here, it seemed to say; just a spot of water, please, and I'll be fine. Nary a brown leaf to be seen. Such a hopeful plant. (The lemon tree still taunts me with half-ripe fruit; I have nothing to say about that son of a gun.)


I can't help but think of this struggle for survival metaphorically and feel inspired (though only if I leave myself out of the metaphor). I mean, these plants had no reason to believe they would be rescued anytime soon, but still they did all they could to stay alive. Each struggled for life in its own way, in the dignified manner of a Jack London character or Anne Frank or that kid in "Hatchet." There is something to wonder at here (and it's not that I have the literacy of a 12-year-old). The plants, like the characters in most survival books and movies, it seems to me, are just as likely to live as they are to die. I suppose it will be both moving and my fault in either case.

More on all the other less heartless things I have done lately later in the week.

1 comment:

oijoyphoto - the husband said...

just wait until you see "little jill"
in a couple of weeks... she is doing so well in all the sunlight and i might add that she is enjoying her new pot!

(you can get a partial peek at her in the back of this scary photo)

see you soon.