Published 8:30 pm Friday, June 14, 2019
By: Shane Starr
Have you been past the old American Legion golf course and noticed how wild plants have obliterated any semblance of the former layout? Plants fascinate me in their ability to consistently spread out, self-organize, and adapt for survival. Think about it: a plant can turn sunlight, dirt, and water into oranges, roses, or an oak tree. Does anyone but me suspect that plants have a secretly sophomoric sense of humor? I believe tomato plants find that quite humorous. At night, if all is quiet, you can hear those same tomato plants whispering and giggling to each other like little children. Tomato 1: “What do you get when you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?” Tomato 2: “Pumpkin pi?” Giggle giggle. Tomato 2: “What do you call a country where all of the automobiles are light red in color?” Tomato 1: “A pink carnation?”
Some people seem to understand plant needs better than others. We describe those people as having “green thumbs” – a rather unflattering genetic mutation to wish on anybody. I have the opposite of green thumb, whatever that is. Among plants, I am widely recognized as a hospice botanist, since every plant I touch has a life expectancy normally associated with a mayfly.
My wife is good with plants, which means I have to limit how many she buys. During one heated discussion, I made her cry when I drew the line and told her if she bought any more plants, I was going to leave. When I saw her crying, I thought I’d pushed too hard, until she said, “I’m really going to miss you!”
I think my wife is good with plants because she understands the secret language on the planting instructions. “Deer resistant”, for instance applies to fully grown oak trees, kelp more than twenty feet below sea level, or plants located inside of a 660-volt electric fence. “Slow-growing” means that unless you place yourself in cryogenic storage, you will never see this plant bloom. “Likes water” is code that if this is not planted on top of your septic tank field lines, it is moments away from dying of dehydration.
I’m still left pondering how it is that a mature tree can figure out how to get the proper amount of water and minerals to two hundred thousand leaves every day, when I often can’t receive the right number of sandwiches between the drive-through order kiosk and the pickup window? Plants are astonishing in their variety, enviable in their usefulness, and relentless in their adaptability. I suspect that somewhere out in the old legion golf course, one plant is saying to the other, “Hey- if vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?”