Yesterday, I began my classes at Merritt College. This semester I am taking the basic Landscape Horticulture class, which also includes a lab; plus a class on Weeds in the Urban Landscape, and Native Plants of California. Yesterday was the first basic LH class. We were asked to stand, introduce ourselves, explain why we decided to attend Merritt College, and tell what we love about plants.
And I couldn't answer that last question.
Or to be more precise, I couldn't think of a one-sentence, simple answer. Some people said they liked digging in the dirt, some people said that plants couldn't talk back and that was a relief, some people said they liked that their kids knew how broccoli grew. That's all true for me, too; everything everyone said was also true for me. But I couldn't make my answer succinct. So I didn't answer the question at all. Rather, I just muddled around it, saying something about having a suburban farm and bees. It was pitiful.
I thought about it through making dinner last night, dinnertime conversation, an issue with one of the kids around their school stuff, putting the household to bed, and then of course while lying in bed before sleep. Why couldn't I answer this simple question?
I'm still trying to process it. But what came to me in the shower this morning was the lesser-known quote by John Muir that I typed at the top of this page. I think my answer is somehow tied up with that. I'm trying to unpack this today in my mind as I clean the house, go to the market, cook some things, get some homework done, and ferry the kids around to activities. I'm hoping to find time for a walk in the sunshine (sunshine! how we have missed you!) and that will also be some good thinking time. One thing I am sure of, and that is the garden is a respite for me: A place I can go to busy my hands and body while quieting my brain; a place somehow separate from the day-to-day stresses of my life and family; a place that feeds me both literally and spiritually. But all of that sounds trite and common. It doesn't get at the kernel of truth that I know I can discover. There's something there about the running commentary of anxiety that is constantly with me. There's something there about the fact that we have two children that have had either serious physical or mental illness and the toll that takes on a parent. There's something there about nourishment both for the body and for the soul. There's something there about the eternal systems of nature and the creatures that live within it. It might just be too large for my brain to figure out.
Meanwhile I thought I'd ask you, my readers, what you love about plants. Just because I can't figure out a simple answer doesn't mean you can't - perhaps you've got this figured out and can give me a quickie answer. Awesome! Or maybe it's a deep one for you, too - either way, I'd love to know. This is something that I can feel is going to be with me for a while, so anything you can contribute would be fabulous!