A Plant Well Loved

baby ficus, plant, mournIs it strange to mourn a plant?

Benji had been a mere babe when we brought him to our California home back in the ‘80s, a vibrant lush green Ficus, about 2 feet high and 1 foot wide. Then, for 16 years he savored his spot in the sunny corner of our dining room.

Until suddenly, we needed to move to the other coast, and Benji wasn’t invited. No moving company would guarantee the safety of a now almost 5 foot by 5 foot splendid plant.

“I won’t go without Benji,” I declared.

So we packed him in a wardrobe box for the move, and as we unfurled the plant two weeks later in the sunny spot made just for him in our new, New England home, I heard him sigh, long and happy.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

He breathed in the oxygen and gave it out, growing in his big corner. The piano sat on one end, solid and staid, while Benji stretched and grew on his end, filling up the large ‘Great Room’ as the Yankees call it.

Great Room, Ficus, sunnny room, loveWhen guests walked into the spacious room with high ceilings, tall windows, a masculine brick fireplace highlighted by built-in bookcases, all they noticed at first was Benji. Not the wood floors or Oriental rug or ivory couches or glass-topped tables.

Just Benji.

For 10 more years Benji thrived, and at 6 foot tall, he owned the room like a king on his throne.

Until it was time for us to move again, and this time, the law dictated that no plant could be transported to the west coast.

No friends or relatives or even strangers would take Benji – he was too big. But the new residents of our New England home agreed to keep him.

I left instructions: water once a week, not too much and not too little. Let him soak in the light. Talk to him. Enjoy him.

Half a year later, I returned to our past, to the house in New England, and to Benji. I peeked into the Great Room, and saw the wood floors and the bookcases and the fireplace, but no Benji.

Ah, there he was, just a ghost of himself, down to 4 feet by 2, wispy, yellow.

Pathetic.

And I cried for our beloved plant,

Who no longer owned the room.

Like a child not well loved, or a pet kept outdoors, or a spouse ignored, Benji gave up. I felt silly, feeling so sad about this dying plant, but really…

Wouldn’t you?

Benji

[Ficus benjamina, commonly known as the Weeping Fig, Benjamin’s Fig, or the Ficus Tree and often sold in stores as just a “Ficus”, is a species of fig tree, native to south and southeast Asia and Australia.]

Time – A Cruel Thief?

As we begin to be inundated with “the holidays,” I shiver at the thought of how fast the time has gone.

If someone came up to me and said, “Fooled ya, it’s really May 25,” I’d gladly and willingly believe them.

In fact, just this past month I told two different people that it’s spring. And I was being sincere! Embarrassing? Yes, but my brain really can’t fathom the fact that we’re into late fall already.

Where does each day go? The goddess in charge of the calendar just swoops days up into her apron, juggles them around as if they’re playing cards to be shuffled, and then (the clinker here) snaps her fingers like a magician to make them disappear.

The weird thing is how this same goddess, when she and I were much younger, tricked the days into being as long as a string that encircles the earth. I remember a day in my 6-year-old life, for instance, when my mom and I were visiting her sick friend.  The morning crept by tick tock tick tock tick tock one minute at a time, slow slow until hours and hours later, it was still morning and I still had to play with the friend’s smarmy kid.

Once in high school, the days were still excruciatingly long: each year – freshman, sophomore – took a decade to complete. The idea of ever being an adult, on my own, away from my parents’ grip, was too ludicrous to even contemplate.

But now, spring has become fall in the blink of an eye. If time keeps racing on, laughing at me, daring me to slow it down, I will be an old lady in two blinks, feeble, stooped, alone, and lonely.

That horrible reflection turns my thoughts to Elizabeth Haileys’ quote from A Woman of Independent Means, “Time is a cruel thief to rob us of our former selves. We lose as much to life as we do to death.”

Then I berate myself for cogitating so negatively. After all, without time, we’d all be without family, loved ones, friends; in fact, we’d be unshaped and unbeautiful.

And each of us are so lovely in our own time, shaped from our own experiences, bent and doubled over sometimes, yes, but still standing strongly, still looking that time goddess in the eye and saying, “Bring it ON.”

Pauline Fisk explains it superbly in her book The Secret of Sabrina Fludde:  “The flow of time is always cruel. Its speed seems different for each person, but no one can change it. A thing that doesn’t change with time is a memory of younger days. Something that grows over time is a true friendship, a feeling in the heart that becomes even stronger over time. The passion of friendship will soon blossom into a righteous power and through it, you will know which way to go. Time passes, people move… like a rivers’ flow, it never ends. A childish mind will turn to noble ambition, young love will become deep affection, the clear waters’ surface reflects growth. Now listen and reflect upon yourself.”

So I am listening, and I am reflecting, celebrating my righteous power and deep affection for life.

And trying not to look at the clock while doing so….