Tuesday, November 10, 2009

'A Jar of Dirt'


To me, as Winter approaches, when the Trees begin to lose their leaves and perennials die in order to sustain hidden life beneath the soil, the presence of a few living plants inside the house is a symbol of hope and life. Once, I would have assumed that every one felt the same, and that the sight of a thriving plant, whether or not it bore flowers, would excite feelings, if not of excitement, at least pleasure.

Plants in the house give benefits to human beings in terms of oxygen. I believe that they clean the air to some extent, recycling it. House plants are recommended by doctors for that reason. And yet, I was shocked to discover that there are those who look at a plant inside the house and simply see 'dirt'. 'Dirt' in this sense is not 'soil' but filth. To me, soil is not filth. It is the foundation of nature and the cradle of plant life.

Fuchsias may not survive a Winter of freezing temperatures. For that reason, I try to bring the Fuchsia into the house before the first frost. This year, I worried about the plants so much that I decided to bring them indoors a little earlier and was rewarded with new blooms. It gladdens my heart to see the flowering plant at a time when most of the plants in the garden are dying.

When I hear any one ranting against the presence of a living plant in the house, I think of Jack Sparrow in 'Pirates of the Caribbean' with his wonderful speech about his 'jar of dirt'. 'I have a jar of dirt!' he crowed ecstatically... The jar of dirt there was supposed to contain a living, beating heart. Dirt in itself is a living organism, even when not invested with fairytale magical significance. In fact, in times of desperation and starvation, human beings actually have survived temporarily on dirt.

Similarly, although ice and snow in Winter can be bitterly cold and difficult even for humans to survive, without Winter, leaves never would turn colour and fall from the trees. It is the anticipation of dying that lends extraordinary beauty to the Trees. Fallen leaves can be a nuisance in our gardens, but at the same time, they are Nature's exquisite tapestry, a declaration of the incredible variety that exists in plant life.

In Second Life, I often was a little disappointed in the predominance of tropical beaches and palm trees. Yes, warm beaches are lovely and they can give a welcome illusion of Summer to those who are experiencing Winter's grip in the real world, but to me, it is the change of seasons and the variety between the four Seasons that is most magical. The sight of a rocky cliff and evergreens hugging a wild Northern coastline is equally inspiring.

Perception can be a shield against the darkness or it can be a sword turned against the heart. Those who perceives house plants as nothing more than 'dirt' or 'filth', having no right to exist within the home, have chosen somehow to cut themselves off from life. They wage perpetual psychic war against Nature, against anything that threatens their control over the universe. That is what it has to be, the defence of a person who feels impotent all too often and who therefore takes his/her war to every object or entity that he/she has not chosen to allow in his/her world. The same person who raves against house plants is filled with incandescent hatred of squirrels and mice. Any 'rodent' is vermin, just as soil is 'filth'.

I have experienced an invasion of mice in the past that caused terrible havoc with my books and keepsakes but I do not hate them as a species even now. Were all human beings to declare unconditional war against 'rodents', Beatrix Potter never would have created her incredible world. How could one envision a world devoid of Peter Rabbit and Squirrel Nutkins? She had the imagination and love of Nature required to perceive the little 'invaders' into her realm as a source of creative inspiration.
Again, all a matter of perception.

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