Sunday, October 17, 2010

Coming In From The Cold

Innocent of the privations of city life.
I just found my way to my friend Jen Block's blog, Pushed Birth. She writes: " is the sister site for Pushed, the book, and was created to provide women with uncensored, unsweetened information about U.S. childbirth care. (I) spent years researching why so many labors are begun by induction, why so many births end in cesarean section, and how modern maternity care is impacting women and their families. " Check out Jen's fantastic June 2010 blog (Yes, I am just catching up on my reading!) about how the closings of Bellevue and now St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan have deprived New York City's women, especially low income women,  of the two main facilities that made midwife care feasible (and legal).  You must check out Jen's book and blog, if you are planning to have a baby or care at all about women's health issues.

And now it is autumn for sure. In Tiny Town, I have brought in the begonias and placed them on the broad, sunny window sill in the dining room, the window that looks onto the little walled brick patio where they grew so splendidly all summer in their big earthenware pots. There are only two small plants left in the apartment in the city, one rather sad looking aloe and a tropical of some kind that came from a cutting a neighbor gave me. I tend to be unreasonably sentimental about plants, and I feel badly that these two are still living alone in the apartment where I only go now for an hour or two each week to check things out and give these two stragglers a little water. 

Urban Plant Exile
One of the begonias I just brought in from the nippy autumn air is three years old: I created it from a clipping I took when my music partner, Mountain Sea, and I got back from our last tour in Europe. I was tired then, a little worn thin in a variety of ways, and I was trying to get comfortable again in the Sugar Hill apartment which had grown dusty and lifeless during my extended absence. It was November and already chill when I saw a large begonia just barely hanging onto a dirty brick wall on 153rd St. and Broadway where it was being blasted by the cold night air.  I heard the plant's thin voice calling out to me to save it, so I surreptitiously took a cutting and brought it back to my steam-heated rooms, rooted it in a jelly glass, and later planted it in earth bought from the dollar store. There in my westerly kitchen window, the begonia slowly turned into a plant with oddly transparent leaves that had a fragile, gummy texture, but were stubbornly and defiantly alive. Sporadically it put forth a couple of of anemic light-pink blossoms: They fell almost immediately to the floor. 

This June, as FF and I moved things out of the apartment and to Tiny Town, I brought the begonia with me, and clearly it thought it had died and gone to Heaven, for over the course of two summer months it has turned in a bodacious wild creature. It now sports huge, dark, glossy almond shaped leaves, and numerous fleshy red racemes covered with dark pink blossoms. In a couple of country months, the begonia went from being a weak city weed to being a well-fleshed, rainforest beauty.

I take special pleasure in my plant's story: Its start as a wilting, frost-struck cutting in a jelly glass,  its survival from a certain urban death, its patient period of semi-wilted stasis in the city, and its recent phoenix-like rebirth in the country summer.  This plant is joy and hope, and its greatness is now apparent. I am touched by the begonia, and so I can see that it is really myself I am seeing in it. By saving the begonia I saved myself. I know that these softly rolling hills, this air, this river, these sun dappled sycamore leaves outside my study window are all working their big medicine on me, making me stronger, glossier and more powerful. I have always wanted to supply an Ark to the weak, the lost, and the damaged. Has it been my way of telling the world that I needed an Ark myself to shelter me from my life's storms? From the terrors that afflicted me as a child and then, later, as an adult? The apartment in Sugar Hill was my Ark for a while, but now, I have found a better Ark. The plants come onboard.

This week, I got the good news that one of my songs is playing on a French radio station. I am amazed and delighted that the audience for my little song, heard before now by a half dozen people, has just exploded by tens of thousands. I am touched by this evidence of my own blossoming and I think that the Great Gardener is taking pleasure in me right now.


Belle said...

I love this. Please bring the remaining NY plants to your new haven. They too deserve the love/light of your new life.

And congrats on the song! That's soooo cool! Can you post the song somewhere so we here in this bedeviled country can enjoy?

Unknown said...

YAAAAAAAAAY FOR THE SONG and for the begonias good fortune that it's tiny voice could be heard by such a loving heart as yours. Now you and FF and your new home benefit as the plants gain a new place to flourish and be inspired by your two flourishing.

Tenured Radical said...

Yay song, yay plant, yay you!

Dorothy Potter Snyder said...

Dear ones, thank you! I promise I will bring the others, too.

And Belle, if you want to hear the song there's a snatch of it on CDBaby where I have posted it as a 1.19 single to download it. Here's the link...I hope you like it.