My followers, please don’t judge me, but I grew up in Scarsdale. We had a gardener who kept the property looking lovely; every Sabbath, the florist in town delivered sweet, little flower arrangements. These were the extent of my experience with nature.
When I got married and moved to Israel, lo and behold, my amazing husband, artist par excellence, turned out to be a superb horticulturalist.
Trust me, in my life I never saw someone plant anything, let alone observed the growing process.
My relationship with flowers was enjoying the colors and smells of a snappy bouquet. I had no relationship with soil and conditions; heavens, no.
In the years since we married, I’ve often gone with him on forays to plant nurseries, always wondering how he knows what to buy for that time of year. There have even been a few occasions in those 43 years when I took a stab at planting something myself. These days, I even keep a few houseplants in the bathroom, which is beautiful and flooded with light. There was one plant that I kept alive for over 20 years; I called it my Al Secunda plant, after the friend I bought it with when he made a visit to Israel. I lost the Al Secunda plant a few years ago, to my great sadness, when one of my young granddaughters amused herself by watering the poor guy during bath time, or more accurately by drowning him. After all the pouring she did, there was nothing I could do. I guess it was its time to give up the ghost. (That was the last time I let a grandchild take a bath in my tub; we have two others, but Granny’s tub is officially off limits.)
When I moved into my new office at the rehab last year, designed and built for me by my beloved husband, we bought some very cheerful, very colorful plants to place around the room. Unlike my first successful plant, these even have flowers.
I made a real effort with these plants. I nurtured them, respected them, and provided what I thought would help them thrive: sun, water, and a deep appreciation for their existence as part of God’s gift of nature. I’ve been giving them a sprinkle of water several times a week, turned them around occasionally so they get the sun at a different angle, and maybe mostly, I speak to them in words that reflect how grateful I am that I am, on some extremely minor level, participating in their growth and development.
I want to report, with utter joy and delight, that a year later, my plants are not only alive – they have consented to flower for a second time after a period of hibernation. These three little rascals are blooming on my desk in December, flanked by a bouquet of tulips sculpture by my friend Dudu Gerstein; he gave it to me last year for my birthday. On the other side is a fake orchid from Ikea that is so fabulously constructed, I watered it when I first got it because I thought it was real.
Holy moly. I am thrilled and astounded that my plants and I have engaged in a fruitful relationship for a whole year.
I’m seventy-one years old, kids, and what I’m here to shout out is: It’s clearly never too late to learn something, to get better at something, and feel proud of yourself. Baby steps. Blessings.