The only plant I have ever not yet killed through incompetence and indifference is a small bamboo plant given to me by a student for Christmas 2012. It is still thriving above my kitchen sink.
However, every other plant that has come through my death grip has withered away prematurely. I know how to keep children and cats alive. Fish, crabs, plants, frogs, lizards, etc.: Beware.
But seeing as how this plant was inherited from my good friend, now moved away, I resolved to domy best. My friend laughed at me, knowing me well, and said, "Don't worry. It wasn't in the greatest shape to start with." Well.
I put out a call to my facebook--because what else would I do?
"For those of you following along, I have inherited this plant. Anyone know what it is our what it needs from me?"
Facebook never fails me, and soon I had collected advice:
"Looks like a Boston Fern. They are a little hard to care for. You have to make sure they stay really moist. It works best if you mist it every day and water the soil regularly. "
"I don't think they like direct sunlight either."
"May I suggest that you hang it in your shower? It will like that."
"These plants require you to dance naked around them when the moon is full while chanting songs in Gaelic....... 'trust me'"
"Don't forget the ritual of the quarter moon—I seem to recall that you must make love with someone you like."
Now this is my kind of plant! I decided to name her Eve.
My son helpfully chimed in:
"I give it a week. Sorry but a combination of cats and your busy schedule kind of destroy most hope."
The boss lady rolled her eyes a little and told me to just stick it in a window and leave it alone. That seemed to be the most promising advice, so I went for it.
Unfortunately, BrotherCat likes salad. I gotta say, my son called it with the cats.
BrotherCat and I have been arguing about her proper place in the household anyway.
Anything I put on this shelf was summarily knocked to the ground. She is young yet, so sowing seeds of destruction is still more entertaining than sleep.
I vaguely recalled potted plant advice from a friend that sometimes you just need to re-pot a plant. Those of you who have been following along know that I have been worm composting food scraps. A lady in the church wanted to teach the youth how to worm compost--and that's been an entertaining time all by itself. But this means that I have a bucket full of rich worm compost and no idea what to do with it. I decided to re-pot the plant with the worm compost, and displace the cat from the shelf. I wasn't sure if BrotherCat could get up on to the top shelf with the plant, but I knew there wouldn't be much leverage for breaking off salad leaves.
She tried a few times to get up there, but the humiliation of falling off was too much for BrotherCat's feline pride. She has settled for roosting beneath the plan. I have obliged her with a cozy towel. There is peace in the household, the plant is in the window, but not too much, ensconsed in worm compost, and generally brightening my day.
Most days I wake up to a view of the plant and the cat peacefully coexisting. I am unsure if the plant will make a come back, even to the level of health it enjoyed at the time of my inheritance. My friend has said several times not to go to much trouble for this plant--not on her behalf. And she has reminded me that I can always get another plant. Which is funny to me, because I never would have considered getting a plant in the first place.
But I like it there, and it reminds me of life and love and light. As I escape from winter, barely breathing, I know that I can't survive another one like it. I'm working on seasonal rituals so that New Jersey Winter #9 will be bearable. Some people do ugly Christmas sweaters. I've settled on colorful shawls. And deliberately mismatched socks.
I made a decision over Lent to settle here for the foreseeable future. Or rather I might say I re-made that decision. Commitment doesn't come easily to me. Setting down roots takes time, and my roots got uprooted this spring with decisions and disasters that were unexpected and unsettling. It would have been easy this spring to make a decision to go elsewhere, to say sad farewells, to take advantage of the unsettling.
But instead I hung pictures and curtains. I unpacked boxes. I re-potted a plant. I put down some more of my own roots. I've decided to become a plant person. By the time winter comes again, I shall have a veritable jungle on my hands. If I can keep the cats from eating the plants, that is.
Fits and starts...fits and starts. What will come of this settling? I don't know. My gut says that I will settle my roots and get comfortable, and the universe will uproot and move me again. My gut says to keep the boxes packed and a stash of cash in case I need to dash. But my spirit says stay; be still; settle down.
All that from a half dead plant.