Growing (What is Essential)

There are plants growing in the playroom.  I am fond of them.  The leaves on some of the new plants are beginning to push from the soil, some still tucked embryonically inside the shells of the seeds from which they grow.  They are tender, and I turn the playroom heat up when my husband is not home to warm them.  Yesterday, the room was so hot that I thought I’d burn my feet on the floor tiles.  The plants grew, I swear, almost visibly in the heat.

 I spray them with water, I turn them to face the sunlight.  I protect them from my toddler’s curious hands.  And I protect some of them from his feet:   the small garlic plants sprouted from garlic bulbs bought at a farmer’s market this summer (fat, pungent bulbs) just went into the garden this morning.  Michael found a worm in the soil, and he scooped small fistfuls of dirt into his mouth.  I let him enjoy the almost-spring air without boundaries, but stopped him from stepping on the new garlic like I will someday prevent him from manhandling a younger sibling.  The garlic plants, with their tiny shoots, look so vulnerable in the big garden.  But the smell, as I transplanted them from the egg carton I’d started them in—full of flavor, rich with anticipation of meals to come.

I examine the plants—seedlings, I suppose they are—nearly every day.  I delight in finding new roots shooting through the outside of the pellets I’ve planted them in.  And I watch them, carefully, when the heat is on.  Slowly, slowly, slowly, they unfold their tiny leaves.  It is like watching Michael:  mindlessly dull, yes, but charged with the excitement of what might happen next, or someday, or eventually. 

And I bring them more water, more heat, more attention.  I can’t help but worry, already, about how they might fare when I finally put them all into the big garden.  But really, the big garden is the reason why I’ve started them in the first place.  So I guess my anxiety is not about their fate.  It is about mine. 

Letting those seedlings go will only prove that they can do it on their own.  If all goes as planned, they will show that I am not essential.






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