Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Big Green Thumbs Down

There was a time back in the late 70's
when I actually had a green thumb.
(For a while, anyway).
Nurturing live plants became
a popular Mother Earth News-type
thing to do-
and I eventually surrounded myself
with houseplants I couldn't even pronounce.

My living room was filled
with such things as jade plants,
rubber trees, spider vines,
and elephant roots.
I had ficus and geraniums
and assorted cacti.
And seeing that I loved plants,
my husband began making
a weekly gift of another
green-filled pot.

I gave them all names.
Maybe it was the mothering instinct
because this was before I gave birth
to my children.
There was Victoria (the ivy vine),
Spidey (the spider plant),
Lilly (the lily, of course),
and Bob the barrel cactus.
(And various other plant children
that I've forgotten through the years...)

On the onset of winter the first year,
they started looking peaked.
There was evidence of dropping leaves,
exposed roots,
broken branches
and brown tips.
There were significant blotches
and bug holes
and mold
and wilting.

My plant family was dying.

Soon I began closing the blinds-
hoping the nosy neighbors
wouldn't know about the abuse.
But living in the dark
only made it worse.

I wouldn't let my friends come over to visit-
fearful that they might be shocked
by the plant carnage in my living room.

I didn't know where to go for help.
I wasn't sure which plants needed water
or fertilizer
or ph adjusted soil.
I had no clue if they required
pinching or pruning
or playful conversation.

I grew sullen, depressed-
each day having to toss another
plant skeleton into the trash
or bury it secretly in the back yard
before the neighbors could
report me to the Botanical Society.

I finally came to terms with the fact
that I did not have a green thumb-
that I was not born to be a plant mama-
that no way on God's green earth
did I deserve to own
another fragile seedling.

I've learned to live with the loss.
Accepting my limitations
was the first step in therapy.
I've moved on with my life.

And, happily, I do have some
new plant children now-
Artificial Andy, Fake Fiona,
and Silk E. Silvia.