Sunday, September 22, 2013
In which it's John-John's birthday and I learn about Findhorn and plants....
Maddy hasn't found a pair of boots for him yet, although she did find the other thing he really wanted - a book called The Findhorn Garden Story.
"It's in Scotland," he explained to me. "It used to be a caravan park. A laid-off hotel manager and his family moved there while he was looking for other work and they decided to give gardening a try in the meantime - never mind the place was on the coast, there wasn't any decent soil for growing things and the weather was horrid. But they learned to work with the earth and nature and well - they started growing all sorts of things that shouldn't have been growing there. Their neighbors joined in and eventually it became this beautiful community out in the middle of what should have been more or less a wasteland. It's really pretty cool. Now it's a spiritual center." He looked wistful. "Shel and I were talking earlier. We'd really love to go there someday. I think Maddy would like it. She's good with plants."
"It's about connecting with the earth and her energies more than having a green thumb, sweetie," Maddy said, coming in.
"But that's part of it, isn't it?" John-John said.
"One small part," she agreed.
Looking through the book a little later myself, I came to the conclusion that John-John had oversimplified the story. But it really is awesome.
"But what the heck is a caravan park?" I asked Maddy.
"Trailer park," she said, looking around from the plant she was watering. "I can't keep this one happy. Look. Mealybugs again."
"Those weird white cottony things are bugs?" I thought they were just another symptom of her less-than-meticulous housekeeping.
She nodded. "My plants that are doing well never get them. It's the ones that aren't happy somehow that always get infested." She was wiping away bugs as she spoke. "I'll have to spray it with that Earthtone soap."
"Is that how you know they're not happy?" Somehow I never thought of a plant as being happy or sad or anything.
"Sometimes you can just tell. They don't quite look right. Or they're not growing despite your best efforts." She looked at a new weeping fig she just repotted last week. "This one's still adjusting to its new home. See how it dropped some leaves? I don't think it's really unhappy here, but it's still not what it was used to. Its friend here is doing better, though. No leaf drop." She checked it, but didn't water it. "I told John-John he should read The Secret Life of Plants. Most of it's really fascinating. I do, however, seriously doubt the one theory in there about music and plants. I really doubt that the woman who performed that "study" killed plants by making them listen to Led Zeppelin."
"Are you serious?" Given the fact that most of her plants seem to be very much alive, I doubt it, too.
"She claimed it was the music. I think it was having them too close to those big, old-fashioned speakers. This was back in the seventies. The speakers apparently put out the same kind of electromagnetic interference as the old CRT televisions. I know that every plant I set too near the old TV died a slow death. "
"This wasn't the same person who hooked a plant up to a lie detector?" John-John had told me about that, too.
"No, that was a man named Cleve Backster. He was just curious about what would happen if he did. He wasn't getting any real response from the dracena he'd hooked up to the polygraph, so he was standing across the room wondering what might make the plant react. He thought of burning one of its leaves - and when he thought that, the plant freaked out. He got the same reaction on the polygraph he would have gotten from a person he'd threatened. Only he hadn't said anything out loud. And no, he didn't have the heart to go though with it after he saw how much he'd scared the plant. But he left the plant hooked up to the polygraph and found out that it reacted to whatever was going on around it - sometimes good, sometimes bad if it didn't like someone or something. But it was aware of its surroundings, apparently."