Thursday, January 7, 2016


Lost: One Green Thumb


Tiny, green, leaf-munching worms. Disfiguring gall mites on my fuchsias. Browning rose leaves. Weed invasion on my lawn. Am I losing my touch? Or can I blame these garden afflictions on El Niño? He takes the blame for anything out of the ordinary, including welcome events like an abundance of butterflies this spring. Our ever-present air pollution is another convenient scapegoat. I must share some of the blame for garden failures and go through the checklist. Over watering? Over-or under-fertilizing? Too much sunlight? Too much shade? The plant doesn’t like its pot? I resort to garden books and Internet for answers and non-toxic pesticides.
Today I discovered that gall mites are the culprits for my fuchsia woes. There it was. A photo on internet. “That’s it!” I cried. Two plant experts had been unable to diagnose the problem. Now I must persevere and accept the challenge – cutting off the ugly tumor-like protrusions and mixing a spray solution to be used weekly. The Internet expert warns that I may never totally eliminate the mites as they are spread by hummingbirds and bees. Imagine a garden without those visitors.
My persevering care last year paid off with Speedy Gonzalez, our sick tortoise. Syringe feeding for months, taking blood tests and x-rays were onerous and time consuming with no guarantee of success. I’m pleased to report that he’s back to his old tortoise self this season, pacing the back yard with occasional sneaks into the house, munching grass greedily and gorging on fallen apricots.
Our hopes and endeavors may or may not bear fruit. That’s the challenge that enriches us – not knowing the outcome. Persistence in the face of uncertainty.
Russian writer Anna Akhmatova regarded living as a “habit.” This idea had me thinking– for about 60 seconds.  Yes, habit does occupy a certain part of my days. But what about the conscious decisions I make throughout the day? Decisions that require effort like treating an ailing tortoise or planning a birthday getaway for my husband.  If life consisted only of habit, how boring our days would be. What of our efforts? Achievements? Failures? Why get up in the morning if no elements of serendipity or surprise are possible or even probable?

A brief event today reminded me to always expect the unexpected, for a state of constant expectation is the antithesis of habit. I went to my Pilates class, my usual morning routine three days a week. Afterwards, the supermarket was on my schedule. But Yolanda, a Pilates colleague and neighbor, invited me to her house where she massaged my arthritic wrists and thumbs with her miraculous oils. Bliss! She covered my wrists with her hands, transmitting her warmth, and then followed up with a soothing massage. I told her how wonderful it was to feel her loving care. She sent me home with a bottle of cannabis oil – on loan. Maybe I’ll recover my lost green thumb.

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