Monday, July 4, 2011

I Was Trying to Do the Right Thing

By Susan Esther Barnes

As I have written before, I am not the best at caring for plants. Far from it.

At one point last year, I had a plant infested with white flies, and despite my best efforts, I couldn't get rid of them. As a last resort, I put the plant outside on the back deck, thinking maybe the spiders would eat the flies. Although one enterprising spider moved in right away, it was no match for the flies, which eventually finished killing the plant.

I left the pot outside, and imagine my surpirse when, a number of weeks ago, I found the plant above had suddenly taken up residence in the pot. It seemed to spring up out of nowhere, and suddenly was a couple of feet high.

It wasn't the same kind of plant that had been in the pot previously, and I didn't know what it was. Because it had sprung up so vigorously, and had such a thick stem, I was concerned it would soon outgrow the pot.

When I saw my sister on Father's Day, I showed her a picture of the plant. Even though she is a Master Gardener, she didn't know what it was. So on Friday I took a photo of the plant to the local nursery, and asked their advice.

They didn't know what it was either, but they agreed that the pot it was in wasn't big enough for it. I asked whether I should by a large pot to replant it, but they agreed that the plant may well be a tree, and would outgrow any pot I was likely to purchase. When I said it was currently on my deck, they said, "If you try to keep it on your deck, you're just asking for trouble."

Which left me with a moral dilemma. If I just left it in the pot, it would become too large, possibly break the pot, and die. It is a living thing after all, and I didn't want to torture it.

Similarly, I didn't want to just throw it in the trash, where it would dry out and die another kind of slow death. I suppose I could have killed it more quickly by cutting it up into pieces before I threw it away, but then I would have felt a bit like an axe murderer.

Then I thought about where the plant came from. There is a small open space common area behind my home. Clearly, some seed or pod or something had fallen into the pot and taken root. Had my deck and the pot not been in the way, the plant would have taken root in the ground below.

So on Friday afternoon I took the plant out of the pot and put it on the ground in a nice shady area below and somewhat to the side of my deck. Then I threw a bunch of water on it to help it get started.

On Saturday evening I threw some more water on it. It has been hot here, and I felt somewhat responsible for helping the plant get settled in what I had been starting to think of as its rightful home.

Then, on Sunday, I leaned over my deck to look at the plant, and saw this:

Apparently, there had either been a swarm of locusts that came by in the night, or, more likely, a neighborhood deer had come down out of the hills and snacked on the plant's nice, tender leaves.

The plant isn't dead yet, but I figure it's just a matter of time. I was trying to do the right thing, but really, just about any plant is doomed from the moment it comes under the influence of my tender care.

I wonder if there's a Hebrew prayer to ask for forgiveness for inadvertently killing (yet another one of) God's plants.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, don't feel bad. I've managed to kill ivy. Ivy..a plant that manages to survive just fine *clinging unattended to the side of buildings* died in my care!!! :/