I’ve been thinking a lot about plants lately. First I read this essay about plant intelligence, by Cody Delistraty, in the Paris Review Daily. While I read it, I was sitting at my kitchen table, on which we keep a healthy portion of potted plants: they take up perhaps one quarter of the table space. (Dave doesn’t love this, but when I ask him what he would prefer, he says, “I would like them all to be together, by the window, on a table.” And though I know what he means—a different table—I cannot help but cackle at him, because, honestly. I mean, honestly.)
The number of plants on this table has grown slowly and steadily over the years. They do remarkably better all together, reached towards one another, letting their tendrils intertwine. I also recently read Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane, in which the protagonist, and arborist and gardener, talks about how trees form friendships, shielding one another from the wind, sharing nutrients, and generally getting along. I enjoy watching the plants on the table create their own small symbioses, even though the majority of them do not share soil, just space, air. They still seem to treasure one another’s presences. I know I am projecting, anthropomorphizing, but if they’re thriving, am I not also somewhat correct?
(This idea of tree friendships also makes me wonder if some trees are just…jerks? I wonder this, for instance, about our big, beautiful eucalyptus tree, which is non-native to Arizona, and whose leaves drop everywhere and ruin the soil for some other plants. Do they think, “Poor Larry, can’t help himself, wrong place wrong time,” or do they think, “GOD Larry, give it a REST”?)
The other reason I’m thinking about plants is that, given the success of my January garden, I’ve planted a late-September/early-October garden this year, and I’m very curious what will come of it. The entire thing is seeds, no seedlings (at least, so far), and I put them in the ground this past weekend. As it turns out, I am constitutionally incapable of waiting more than 12 hours before checking if my seeds have germinated (they have not), which means it will be a trying couple of weeks until I start to see some action. But there is an intense pleasure, for me, in seeing the empty beds slowly fill, chasing the birds away, watering slowly and meditatively in the mornings. I expect that not every seed I planted (or, every type of seed rather) will thrive, but it’s something of an experiment for me.
It is warm, but cooling in the morning and evenings. This weekend I baked an apple pie. Winter is coming. Slowly, but still.