I am obsessed. It doesn’t have to be a plant. Anything that has life and demonstrates some ability to adapt to conditions, or reveal hidden permanent traits enthralls me completely.
Watching my children grow has been the ultimate adventure of my life as an obsessed voyeur of growth. I get giddy and airheaded just at the thought of being able to do it all over again with Kira, a child not of my own blood, but sewn into my heart’s fabric by the absolute sovereignty of God. What a marvelous adventure watching her grow up will be for me. I will wonder if she responds from her nature or from my nurture. I may never know, but it will just be entertaining to me to wonder.
Naturally with this bent to appreciate life in all it’s forms, animals are also high on my list, most of them from afar. However, puppies are irresistible, and a good dog is irreplacable. Lucy especially teaches me so much about behavior modification, the value of positive reinforcement, and the undeserved gift of unconditional love. My life would be incomplete without a dog, and if you are a dog lover, you are nodding your head.
When no one is around to entertain me with the life that is in them, the garden does wonders for my need to watch things grow. Seeing the changes my garden makes from one year to the next are so educational. Seeing what the plants in my design will do in response to my personalized care, or in some cases neglect, is equally important to understand. When it comes to plants though, nothing has taught me more than having lived in so many growing zones during our married life. We’ve lived in the bitter cold, the arid desert, the mild mid-atlantic, the moist British Isles, and now the subtropical zone 9 of Texas. Some plants I had in Connecticut that were eight week annuals are trees down here!
So, traveling to a tropical rainforest for the first time and seeing what grows naturally had me on the edge of my seat as I watched the landscape pass by, while the other passengers took their naps. I’d exclaim with glee that I recognized a plant that was brought over on the boot of a soldier from Europe making it special enough to Costa Rica to name a volcano after it. It was the yellow Gorse that golfers in Scotland curse for the thorns. That is my kind of fun. Usually though, I find I am mostly alone with the pleasure of the knowledge about how things grow, where they grow best, and what makes the difference. (I need some gardening compatriots.)
In Costa Rica the plant life was so varied I was mostly stupefied. Thankfully I have been gardening with sub tropical material so I recognize the plants. But I also see what it would be like if these same plants never had a cold spot, but were able thrive to their full potential. (I”m still ornery because I had to replace seven palm trees this spring from our ruinous frost) Lush is the best word for the tropics. A feast of green for the eyes. It’s almost like it produces the desire to be wrapped up in the silky green leaves and put to bed tucked in tight.
The ferns in the Rainforest are trees! The ecosystems on one tree trunk could take me ten years to discover every species. There are orchids growing on the trunks, elephant ears, bromeliads, and philodendron climbing up to the canopy. Moss drips like beards from every branch. Driving, we saw fields of all the tropical plants we buy at the nursery for our interior homes. It has become one of the top exporters for their country. I enjoyed seeing a plant we must tenderly cultivate in our homes thriving out in the open.
Our plant life highlight for the trip was when we took an aerial tram ride in the canopy of the rainforest. It began to rain the minute we arrived for this adventure. Being small they put Craig and I in the front of the car, which meant two things: we’d get the best view, and the wettest. We were up there for an hour. I’ll never forget the sensations of hearing the chorus of cicadas, listening to the thunder and feeling it rumble in our bones, feeling the warm rain soak our faces and feet without being a nuisance, looking down to the forest floor, observing what grows on the bark up high in the canopy, and hearing the birds we could not see. Unforgettable. Tell me, what can be more fascinating than observing how life grows?