Thursday, October 15, 2009
Think Like a Plant
Today, I'm going to try to think like a plant. I don't know what that means or how to do it, but it was advice doled out by gardening maven Barbara Damrosch in her newly updated The Garden Primer, which I just got in the mail yesterday. Presumably, Damrosch means that everything will just work out handily for you if you make like a plant. Incidently, I bought the Damrosch book because I enjoy her weekly columns in the Washington Post Home section. But I was a little disappointed because her book really is a primer, and a lot of the information in it was fairly basic. It's kind of rewarding, however, to think that I've moved up a notch in gardening stature.
But still, I liked the idea of thinking like a plant. I should think a plant would have a very sharp focus and clarity to it. Its goal simple: anchor roots deep, eye-gaze high.
I can't focus deeply anymore. There are so many small, superficial items that consume my time. Before we were involved in so many various ventures, I was an immersion girl. I would take on a topic and completely immerse myself in its complexity. I could travel in time to the places I was studying--the pit at Fort Pillow, the trenches at the Somme, the apex of a maelstrom. I'd pour over generals' reports at the Library of Congress, draw out diagrams of troops and cavalry, surround myself with Atlases and other reference materials. The immersion experience has its lingering effects. On Thirteenth Street, most mornings on my way to work, I can make out the figure of Abraham Lincoln on the parapet at Fort Stevens. His top hat is clearly visible as he surveys the enemy troops bivouacked just up the road by Walter Reed hospital. "Get down you damn fool," I always warn him, as we drive by.
I am completely engaged today in the pace that we keep. It feels like a challenge to be up for anything. Drop one thing. Take on another. The constant messaging, email, aim, Facebook, phone, cell. The multiple publishing opportunities, blog, newsletter, web page, video, photo gallery, and of course, magazine. It creates an excitement that curls around your spine and creeps into your neck and then, it turns to tension. And at the end of the day, there are small piles all over the desk, things started but not finished, ideas not pursued, emails unfinished. Little shoots and roots laid down in the soil, some will grow on their own, others will perish. But nothing big is really accomplished.
The picture was taken of my dwarf cavendish banana tree about a week ago. I bought the plant on a whim for $6.99 at Home Depot. It was a just a tiny thing when I planted it with maybe, two leaves on it. All summer it grew on the pot on my deck. I did yoga next to it a couple of times and I loved looking through its dense leaf from underneath when the sun was high above. Last weekend, I pulled it out of the pot, knocked the soil from its roots and wrapped them in a plastic bag and laid the plant on the back shelf of the garage, on top of the beach blanket. Its leaves are close to the heating duct that warms the room above. I'm hoping it will over winter there nicely and next year I'll replant it. Wouldn't it be cool if it grew some bananas? The Putterer