Hiya neighbors....I heard there was a garden party in the neighborhood today so I made us an icy pitcher of sweet tea and thought I'd tell ya'll a short (ok, I tried) story. Sorry it doesn’t follow with the current theme but it does have to do with a previous discussion.
Back on June 30th, in the original Serenity journal, Karen made the following post:
"My father and I were in his garden, and I was perplexed as to why his marigolds were so much larger and blooming so much more prolifically than my own.
"How do you do this?" I asked him.
"Like this." And he stomped on one of his beautiful plants.
I was shocked and asked him why he'd done that.
"It's like this," he explained. "Something in that plant wants to live--and where the breaks are, the plant will heal itself and grow even stronger, and the result will be a larger tougher plant."
He showed me some of the scars on the other plants to prove his point.
Then he smiled at me and said, "Don't be afraid to pick your flowers, either. Flowers are a gift to us from God and they are meant to be shared. For every one you give away, two will bloom in its place."
Then he picked one and handed it to me.
Yep, "da lawd loves a garden"."
So, I'd read the story over coffee one morning and it interested me because I have a garden and because what it claimed seemed so far-fetched. But being relatively new to "workin' the fields", I was quickly learning the value of other folk's experiences and antedotes and so I tucked the information away in the part of my brain where I store odd bits that I have no immediate use for, but find intriguing or think I may be in need of someday.
A couple weeks later, I had friends over for BBQ one evening and the next day discovered that one of my cherry tomato plants was broken nearly in half. The break was about 8 inches from the ground, up the main stalk. It didn't go all the way through but far enough that the top part was now bent over and threatening to break completely if any more pressure was applied. The leaves were already wilted and dying and I noticed that there were a few, very small tomatoes hanging from a stem which now had no way to send them nourishment.
My first inclination was to toss the plant out. I had 6-7 others and this one hadn't been the healthiest to begin with. But then I remembered Karen's garden story. (Funny aside...back when I'd stored the story in the corn mazes of my mind, I'd remembered the plant as a tomato, rather than as a Marigold. How bizarre, how bizarre...)
Anyway, I remember the story and am suddenly struck by a preview of the guilt I will feel if I don't at least TRY to save this plant. So I come inside, get electrical tape, scissors and an old t-shirt to cut into strips. Went to the edge of the woods and gathered a few straight, strong sticks from the ground. Then began my attempt at "splinting" the stalk.
I managed to stake, bandage and tape the plant so that it stood upright. I'd tried to line up the "inerds" best as I could, close as I could get them back to their original position, imagining the fine threads which ran the length of the stem, as equivalent to our bodies veins. They would need to heal well for the plant to again use them for sending nourishment throughout, so I paid particular attention when reattaching top to bottom. And just for good measure, I moved the “Serenity rock” from the ground beneath a towering Mexican Sage to the dirt covering the roots of the injured tomato plant. Couldn’t hurt, ya know???
Still, I doubted seriously it would work, that this plant would somehow regenerate or repair the parts that were damaged. I was mostly going through the motions, so that later when it died, I would know that I’d at least made an effort to save it.
Anyway, so then I pinched off any branches that were too damaged to survive, but that if left would continue to drain strength from the rest of the plant. I stopped when I reached the 4 tiny tomatoes still clinging to one of the few undamaged branches, thinking for a minute to remove them but ultimately deciding to leave them alone and see just how strong this plant’s desire to live proved to be. For the next few days I watered and watched as leaves, then branches continued to whither and die. Then for a couple days, nothing happened, no change. Then...new growth. Below the break, but still new growth and reason, I thought, for hope.
I’m probably gonna regret revealing this, but well...I talk to the garden. No particular reason, I’m not thinking it will make the plants grow faster, bigger or anything like that. I just like talking to them... Especially in the morning when I’m still grumpy and not so much looking for a conversation as I am just wanting to say “Good morning” to someone. So when I saw new growth on the injured tomato plant, I said aloud “Cool, maybe you really do wanna live”.
I won’t bore you with the rest of that conversation, except to say that it continued for a while and that daily visits became the norm after that.
Slowly I began to see more and more tiny leaves sprouting between branches and stems, and a few of them were actually ABOVE the wound in the stalk. And still the tomatoes hung, though unchanged in size or color. I was beginning to think they were going to just hang there until they rotted on the vine, but was determined not to pinch them off until I had no other option.
During one of our morning conversations, I mentioned to the plant that I had grown quite fond of it and was happy and impressed at the progress it was making with the new growth and all, but that I really wanted those little tomatoes to make it. To grow, sweet and plump, turn to orange and then to red. And I wanted to pick one, ripe from the vine and eat it right there. I smiled, just at the thought of it. (I get an absurd amount of enjoyment from this garden...lol). A couple days later it was time to fertilize so I mixed up a dose for the recovering plant and hoped it would find it’s way through healed “veins” to the top of the plant and the thirsty pea sized and colored tomatoes waiting there.
So, based solely on Karen’s father’s theory and my crude attempts to practice plant medicine...I hoped. And then...I waited some more. Watched, watered and talked some more. And finally, sighed at the realization that in spite of good intentions and best efforts, often you just gotta let nature take it’s course, whatever that might be.
Because...every now and then, the most unlikely of theories when combined with a bit of tape and a lot of hope, plots a course that culminates weeks later, on a Saturday morning in late July, coffee cup in hand, entering the garden same as on so many days before. But on this Saturday morning, there are bright orange tomatoes hanging among the healthy green leaves. Plump, juicy, firm, ORANGE (soon to be RED) tomatoes!
And I didn’t even try to contain my smile as I said Good morning to the garden’s newly painted gift.
All that to say this...
Thanks Sen, for telling such a cool story. Ya never know what effect your words might have on someone or when they might be saving a tomato's life.