It’s finally here! I think. I hope.
After a long Chicago winter, one of my favorite things about spring is all of the leaves and flowers coming back with their lovely colors and delectable scents. Before moving to Chicago, I lived in Florida, where—while always beautifully green—it isn’t that big of a deal when spring comes around. There, it’s ALWAYS spring. Here, spring matters, and it’s definitely worth celebrating.
Anyone who knows me well enough knows I am slightly plant-obsessed. I’ve even gotten a few members of my cohort hooked on attempting to garden in our tiny, sometimes cold and dark, apartments. I didn’t realize how much I missed greenery until I started growing herbs in my kitchen my first Chicago winter.
When I lived in my last apartment, I had a beautifully sunny window in my kitchen where I set all my herbs and succulents. My sister-in-law also sprouted an avocado seed (as in one from the middle of the avocado you buy at the grocery store and devour in any variety of delicious ways) when she was staying with us two winters ago. It currently rises to almost 2 feet high in my living room, still holding on!
The herbs, onions, and other re-growable veggies have come and gone, but my succulents remain steadfast and enduring. They’re also constantly reproducing if given the right conditions. No seeds needed—succulents regrow from cuttings or leaves through a process called propagation.
My affinity for these hardy and unique little plants may in some ways connect to my own philosophies regarding my art and writing practices for a couple reasons:
1. You REALLY have to try to kill them.
These little guys thrive in the desert, so under-watering usually isn’t an issue. If anything, OVER-WATERING can be their death.
When it comes to writing, if you REALLY are a writer in your heart of hearts, I think it takes a lot to kill that impulse. There will be dry spells, but with enough time, care, and attention, you can bounce back. I’ve done this too many times with my work and with my darling little plants.
2. They’re always trying to find new ways to survive.
As mentioned above, succulents reproduce via propagation rather than through seeds, and this is a tendency that I find absolutely remarkable. If a leaf or cutting is taken carefully from the plant, within a few days it begins to grow tiny pinkish roots, and within a week or two, you’ll probably see the first beginnings of tiny little leaves.
People often talk about “killing your darlings” when writing. Something might be beautiful but it isn’t quite right. Something needs to be killed or set aside for the greater good of what you’re working on. I don’t necessarily believe in murdering them forever. I’m more of the tendency that pieces can be saved and salvaged and they often prove to be roots for new pieces when given a little time away from their origins. They soon will grow their own roots, become their own plants.
Looking to the forms and patterns of nature, for me, is reassuring, relaxing, a reminder of the ability to grow, change, recover, and restart, but also a much-needed piece of brightness and light in a fairly dark and cold place for much of the year.