Saturday, February 26, 2022

From My Nature Journal: "Hellooooo, Plant!"

A just for fun post… 

With a headnod and a smile at the thought of Ed Norton in the old Honeymooners series ‘addressing his golf ball’ (check it out here), I title my post today. Seems like scientists are finding further veracity in talking to houseplants, both for the talkee and the talker. 

It’s not a new concept. For me, it goes back to an experience with my next-door college dorm friend and future biologist Bruce urging me nearly fifty years ago to talk to my plants, something I’ve taken somewhat seriously over the years. Why not? In fact, the idea goes back in science at least to the mid 1800’s when a German botanist by the name of Fechner published to this end. And now, what do you know? A British publisher has produced a book of bedtime stories to be read to plants, scientifically based. I guess it was bound to happen, though I don’t anticipate going that far. Still, all the bedtime stories or talking in the world won’t help if watering and feeding is neglected.

Jesus talked to a plant at least once. Course, it wasn’t good news for that plant (Mark 11:12-25), but he was trying to get a point across to his followers about faithfulness and fruitfulness. 

And this subject of talking to plants catches me because I have been thinking a lot about plants lately. Several years ago, Gail and I gave away all our houseplants, some that we had even had our whole forty-year marriage. Our ministry work and personal interests were taking us away from home more often for weeks and months at a time, and we were finding it increasingly difficult to care for them. So after putting aside several to bring to a daughter we were going to drive to see soon, one day we put all those remaining out on tables in our driveway and emailed our Shadow Ridge Road neighbors to come help themselves. There was joy on faces as they were carted away, and I daresay a little grief on ours. These plants had become friends over the years.

And such our home has been ever since – plant free – nary a plant to address, and we’ve been missing something as a result. But a brainstorm occurred to me several days ago. We’ve got some invasive English Ivy growing in our woods that I need to get pulled one of these days. Some of that would easily keep and grow here in the house in a jar of water, and wouldn’t require any care over the time we may be gone in the months ahead. So I’m going to get out and collect some cuttings to bring indoors. It’ll at least give me something to talk to when Gail is not around!

And while I’m thinking of it, perhaps something easy that could be said to plants by any of us is, “Thank you.” They are God’s living creation after all, and I have written often before of the power of gratitude when it comes to spiritual and emotional health, here for example. Of course we give thanks to God the Creator for natural beauty, but I do not think it incongruous at all to express gratitude also to the created thing itself. A bit animistic? Some might think so, but I don’t agree. And it looks like we’re seeing a growing body of science to attest to it. Now even bedtime stories. 

So my new ivy cuttings? May they all live (and grow) happily ever after. 

~~ RGM, February 26, 2022