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Recovering from Plant Lust

Any day now, it starts. First with the seed catalogs, sporting glorious color photos of new flower varieties on the front cover. I get pulled in so easily, and end up spending hours (if not days!) pondering what I want. I form very strong attachments to my choices: I hunger for those plants.

Then comes the catalog for the Middlesex Conservation District’s Spring sale, April 22-24. Pre-orders have to be submitted by March25. Since the money supports the MCD, I more easily rationalize supporting my addiction.

The last straw is the profusion of beauty that burgeons at every farm stand and garden center along the road, when spring just barely starts. I tell myself I’m just stopping to look....

It’s out of control. My predicament may sound amusing, but I don’t like the results: too many plants on the porch, not enough places for them, not enough energy to plant them or give them the extra care that even tough plants often need the first year in order to get established; hurting myself by trying....

However, I’m learning how to deal with my problem. For New Year’s, I am making one single resolution. I call it “Step Back.”

Here’s how it works. I see a plant I like a lot; I feel that old familiar pull, that ache in my heart to take it home. All I can think about is how beautiful it is.

But I step back. I remind myself I am more than this obsession. I _look at_ what I’m thinking and feeling, from a vantage point outside it. I’m no longer lost in it. Watching my mind like this doesn’t make the yearning go away; it still aches. But I am capable of acting on rational judgment.

My judgment may be to go ahead and get a couple of my plant loves. The point isn’t to be puritan, it’s to keep a balanced perspective.

I’m sure my long habit of watching my plants, of training myself to observe them as carefully as I can ... has helped me learn to watch my mind. Still, in the heat of passion the initial step back is a bit of a bootstrap operation: how does your mind get itself out of that old black magic? It doesn’t sound logical, but it works. After experiencing it just once, it was such a relief that I’m motivated to hone the skill.

I’m about to get plenty of practice.


Photo by C.H. Clark - captionx


Text and photos © Copyright 2004 Catherine Holmes Clark


Published in the six Nashoba Publications papers on Friday, datex 2004

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For more information
  • Middlesex Conservation District sale brochures will go out in mid January and the website will have the information on it about then too. On Friday April 22, pickup is from 3-6 pm and on Saturday April 24, from 8-12 am.