AM Inspiration: Keeping Company With Plants
After doing a bit of indoor gardening today I am convinced that there is a quasi-mystical benefit from palling around with growing things and playing in the dirt. A NASA study found that certain indoor plants can improve air quality, while researchers in the UK found that a healthful bacteria commonly found in soil activated the brain in a similar manner to serotonin, affecting laboratory mice's behavior like an antidepressant. Whether you absorb their benefits through your eyes, your lungs, or your fingertips, keeping plants around is a reminder that life comes in more forms than that of human beings. They teach us to be better, more patient listeners, attuning us to their silent quests for sun, moisture, and dirt.
For many years I shied away from the company of plants except for the occasional cactus, believing that there was some quality, without which, I would never be a gardener. Though I stick mostly to hardy species, I've discovered that there are two secrets to gardening: attention and optimism. The first may be learned, as I have. The second, must be believed. It takes a certain dollop of optimism to be included when smoothing the soil over a seed. After all, what kind of miraculous alchemy is it that produces a plant from dirt--it seems as though only the green-thumbed elect would be able to produce something from what seems like nothing. A few successes with a sunny window have given me the necessary confidence to experiement, the room to grow as a gardener, as it were--so that when I invite a new green friend to join my little ecosystem, I'm fairly certain I'm not leading it to the slaughter.
If you're already sold on the virtues of plants and want to introduce some variety in your vegetable kingdom without spending a lot, look into the many Plant Swaps and plant cutting exchanges available online.
Think global warming hasn't affected your area yet? Gardeners have noticed changes in growing seasons, rainfall, weeds and pests. Thinking of yourself as someone who grows things makes these natural phenomena your business. There are "planting songs" in the cultural stores of many cultures, expressing the peace to be found in allying oneself with green things. Like this Navajo blessing song: