It's My Birthday and I'll Post About Plants If I Want To
on growing up and growing beings
I am 32 today! You know what that means, sluggies!
Not to be morbid but I was so depressed in my 20’s that I really didn’t expect to live this long, and now that I made it here I gotta figure out what to do?? Thankfully, I have entered into the era of my next Great Obsession: PLANTS.
This morning I awoke to a beautiful gift — the tiny, tiny seed leaves of a rosemary plant sprouting. I had been thinking about just buying a starter rosemary, because I was reading that they can actually be really difficult to germinate, but these baby leaves have me feeling confident I can do this.
By this, I mean garden. I must confess that I have never been able to keep a plant alive. I thought this was just part of my personality — I’m not a nurturer, I am chronically forgetful, and my nickname growing up was Messy. I just thought growing plants wasn’t part of my skillset, and I’d resigned myself to a garden-less life.
But I’m realizing now that gardening requires a full-scale adjustment of our sense of time. Growing plants is slow work, and it makes you think in months and seasons, not days. It is a cyclical process, especially when you have winter to consider.
I grew up in Florida, so seasons were never a part of my life. It was just always hot and usually raining, and the only thing I had to plan for in winter was an influx of elderly snowbirds causing traffic jams.
I hated winter for years and resisted it entirely, but seeing all the plants come back in spring has changed my feelings. You don’t appreciate flowers when they’re always blooming — winter is a darkness that makes the sun that much brighter.
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Zone 10 gardeners in Florida may be able to grow year-round, but they never get the rest that winter provides. It’s a forced break, a reset, and I’ve come to appreciate it here in Zone 7.
I used to think gardening was too slow and tedious for someone who needs the stimulation of multitasking (I’m a hunter in a world of farmers!!), but I’m realizing that multitasking is actually a requirement in the garden when winter looms.
We get two growing seasons here — spring and fall — and you have to grow a lot of plants at once to maximize your time in the sun. For someone who needs to spin a bunch of plates in the air to get anything done, having little ongoing projects in the form of slow-growing plants is perfect.
My newfound desire for slowness has made gardening more amenable for me, but my relationship to plants has also changed. I never say “it” anymore when I talk about them, because I see them as my fellow beings now — kin, as Robin Wall Kimmerer writes:
…we can now refer to birds and trees not as things, but as our earthly relatives. On a crisp October morning we can look up at the geese and say, “Look, kin are flying south for the winter. Come back soon.”
Seeing plants as my kin means I want to go outside and check up on them everyday. This pulls me out of the house and keeps me mindful of small joys — something that naturalists refer to as the art of noticing. I check my plant friends daily, and I notice new leaves, emerging buds, and bites taken out by hungry slugs.
It keeps me here, with my hands in the dirt. I still love chaos, questions, and 10,000 open tabs, but this airy Gemini has gotten tired of always floating. I find myself reaching toward the ground, longing to plant my feet in the earth, where I want to be as I get older, as the world spins faster away from me.