On Roots and Plants

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(A tree penjing (“tray scenery”) in Suzhou, Jiangsu, China (2009)

I have a friend in whose house flowers bloom as if in a tropical forest. She knows the names of all trees and a walk in the woods with her is an inspiration. In my house, on the other hand, plants don’t survive a month and if they manage to exist longer, they never bloom or sprout any of those luxurious leaves that are shown in the magazine pictures. In fact, my plants almost never sprout at all. I don’t give them enough love and attention, as my plant-loving friend explained to me, and she was right, I had no interest whatsoever in those green creatures that I put on my window sill. But still, I wanted to try and see whether I can make anything to grow inside my premises.

So, I found an acorn somewhere in a grove and planted it into a small plastic pot filled with the “basic ground mix” from the flower market. Every morning and every evening I stood in front of the pot with the palms of my hands outstretched: in this way, my qigong teacher explained, we can transmit energy to anybody and anything. The acorn sat tight in the depth of the ground mix for some time but soon it sprouted. I was excited and intensified the flow of the energy waves from my hands. The sapling developed into a tiny brown stem and gave another sprout: in the pot, there were three tiny leaves on a tiny trunk now. I kept on transmitting the energy but alas, the tiny green entity didn’t want to budge any further. I exercised my flower power regularly but nothing changed.

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Gradually I got used to the troll of an oak sitting forever grumpy in its pot and didn’t think twice before buying me a ticket abroad. I gave the pot to my gardener-friend and left for three months. When I came back, the baby oak was dead. My friend said that the plant missed me and withered because of that. After that I never grew any plants in my house; I started moving houses instead. I accepted the idea of bad connection between me and the plants and started looking at the trees around me with curiosity, as if they were foreigners from the distant lands. They seem a capricious crowd to me ever since: a species with their own character, mysterious in their rooted nature, which is still rather strange to me.

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