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A Conversation with Plants
by Mike Williamson
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The occasion:

I'm sitting on the couch in the front room of our apartment and thinking of God and marveling at his creation. I look at the plants about me. Closest to me is a palm plant of some variety, and I reach out and stroke its leaves …if they are called leaves.

Lord. Heavenly Father! …You are beautiful. You are so beautiful it makes me cry on the inside. The worldly–the psychologist sort–call it melancholy. I'm just the melancholy type they say. Phooey on that. It's more than that. I suppose they never talk to you. Or to plants for that matter. Phooey on them!

But, never mind. I say you are beautiful. I can't help but say that because you are. And your creation is beautiful. Look at all these plants.

Plants are humbly beautiful. Now, of course, everything that is truly beautiful is humble. True beauty has no need to be otherwise. It is only pride that must pretend to be beautiful. All that is really beautiful need not pretend. It truly is beautiful, and because it is true, it is humble–because truth, of course, …is honest. And honesty is humility.

"Well said," spoke the Palm.

"Here. Here." mutter the Spider Plant in its Parliamentary British voice. (I almost said in an English accent, but that would have been dumb. Americans have an accent–not the British).

A chorus of nods and gestures broke out amongst the other plants.

"I am glad you appreciate us," spoke Palm again.

"I do," said I.

"Of course, not nearly as much as you should," replied Palm.

"I suppose you are right".

"Of course I am." returned Palm.

A tiny arrow pierced my heart.

"But you need not grieve too terribly. We get along fine, you know."

"You do, do you?"

"Oh, yes. We do quite well. Thanks especially to your wife who tends us carefully."

"But," I protested, "I watch after you too. I don't water you–she does that–but I am interested in your welfare. I enjoy your presence. You liven up our apartment and make it more of a home. We do enjoy you and talk about you often."

"Like I said," replied Palm. "We know you do. It just that…

"It's just that you could pay more attention to us." The plant next to Spider Plant broke in.

"Well. …I promise I will do that," I responded with contrition. "But tell me. Just who are you?"

"I am me," said the plant.

"Well yes," I said. "But what is your name?"

"I am me," the plant restated. "You humans are the ones who name us. You should know.

"But I don't know your name," I protested.

"It makes no matter. I get along fine without one."

"You should probably have a name," retorted the Palm. "I have one. …I am Palm."

"Whoop-de-doo," said the plant next to the Spider Plant. "I suppose like Spiderman here!"

A chorus of chuckles broke out.

"Let's see," said Palm, rubbing his chin (so-to-speak). "You are green …"

"Oh. Boy," the plant said and rolled its eyes.

"And you have really dark green spots on your leaves. …We'll call you the Green Plant With Really Dark Green Spots On Your Leaves."

"That's a mouthful," I replied.

"It's a bit long," called the Pathos from across the room.

"This is silly," retorted the plant. "I don't need a name. I get along fine without one. Look, I have been growing here in this pot for two years and have never had a name."

"Still," said Palm. "You should have one. …It's only proper."

Well. This sent the whole group into a quandary. Every one of them began to think, which is something they had not done until this time.

"Man!" said the plant. "You humans are complicated."

The group nodded in agreement.

The Sheffalara near the sliding glass door spoke up.

"You could call yourself Sheffalara …just like me!"

"That won't do," said the Rubber Plant. "That would be confusing."

"Humans use the same names," replied the Sheffalara. "They do it all the time."

"You make my case," retorted Rubber Plant. "Talk about a confused species!"

"This is all quite silly," the plant responded. "I don't have an identity crisis. I know who I am. You all know who I am. I don't need a name."

It's for the human," replied Palm with a compassionate sigh.

The plant let out an exasperated sigh–not at all compassionate.

"Oh, well," the plant groaned in resignation. "Whatever."

The Ficus Tree had been silent until this point listening to the conversation, but now it cleared its throat and spoke:

"How about …Fred?"

A brief moment of profound silence followed.

"…Fred?" replied the Palm. "…Fred is a short name??"

The group looked at one another with dawning amazement.

"Fred's a good name," said another.

They all looked at each other and nodded in agreement and then all looked at the plant.

"Works for me," replied the plant capitulating and glad to have the ridiculous affair settled.

"Now then," said the Palm. "Where were we?"

"I was worshipping God and saying how beautiful God is," said I.

"Quite so," barked Spider Plant in a deep parliamentary voice. (Though I wonder if the Spider Plant is at all native to England.)

"…And we mentioned how little attention you pay to us," chimed in the newly name plant.

"That's right Plant …er I mean, Fred," said the Palm. "Sorry. It'll take awhile to get use to your name."

"Hey! …It's no leaves off my branches," said Fred.

“You see," said the Palm, who seemed to be the leader. "We sit here daily, year after year, and we don't say anything. We get plenty of sunlight, which, is just what we need. So, we are well provided for, but that's not enough."

"It's not," I puzzled.

"No. …Not for you"

We're here to cheer you up and to display the glory of God, but you barely notice us. Most of the time you sort of take us for granted."

"I suppose I do."

"Duh," said the Ficus Tree who, being tall and stately, condescended to used this figure of speech to make the point humorous. The group laughed.

I gently held a palm leaf and slid my fingers along its branches.

"Well," I said. "You are beautiful. Even though you don't have the complexity of even an animal, you are still marvelous and something certainly more complex than man could ever make."

"You see? That does feel good," said the Palm. "I have to admit it. We do like attention too. We like peace, and that's what we bring into a room, don't we?"

"Yes, it is peace. …Actually …tranquility," said I.

"Boy, I like that word a lot better," said Fred. "Tranquility" …Wow!"

"Whew," moaned Peace Lily in the corner behind the Sheffalara.

"Uh oh," Pathos said grinning. "Lily is getting a buzz on."

"Well. It has been a while," acknowledged Palm. "I think we are all starting to hum a little."

"Hum?" I queried. "Do you hum …like …music?

"No," laughed the Ficus Tree. "That was just an expression for well being."

"Oh. I see."

"But we do like music. And it has been documented by you humans."

"So I've heard. What kinds of music do you like?"

'Oh all types …well, not all types. Peaceful music …or rather, tranquil …"

Lily moaned again.

"Lily is even more passionate than the Pathos–whose very name means passion."

"Wow," said I. “Lily most really be a lover.”

"Phff," scoffed Rubber Plant. "If you think Lily is something, you haven't been around Orchids."

"Well now. We won't go there," said Palm.

"Why do you think they grow in hot houses?" retorted the rubber plant under its breath.

"Rubber Plant," said Palm admonishingly.

"Ok, Ok"

"Well then," said I. "Do you thrive with music?"

"Indeed we do. Especially music with the "T" word." replied Spider Plant glancing at Lily who didn't catch the meaning.

"So. How about heavy metal," I asked.

"Dear God. No!" protested Ficus who was sort of into classical. "There are some species who enjoy it …Yech!"

"Like thorn bushes and weeds," Sheffalara chimed in. "They're the rascally type".

“…When they move in, the whole neighborhood goes to pot. “

“You mean downhill", I surmised.

"Well that too, but …you know …pot.“

"Oh. I see," I replied.

At this point I had to leave for work, and the plants went about planting. It was an enjoyable exchange and profitable for all.

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