When Olive died during last year’s heat dome, I wasn’t prepared for – or even thinking about – how that would hit me. I was surprised at the number of the stages of grief I could identify. But yesterday, I finally reached Acceptance.
For the record, Olive was a plant. Obviously an olive tree.
Olive was the first plant I acquired after moving back to Portland. Even that took a while to accomplish, since I got her in 2016 and had moved back in 2014. She was the product of an in-store event I’d hosted for a local Olive Oil company who had brought a couple trees as set decor for their booth. The owner of the company had offered me one of the three they’d brought up to the event and without hesitation I accepted.
Anyway, I lost her – and everything else on my balcony during our three day heat dome last year. Y’know, the one where our temps in the PNW were the hottest on the planet. That should never happen in Portland, OR. Even watering twice daily didn’t do the trick because the temps never went down at night, there was just no respite. I think that instead of providing relief, watering just changed the heat from baking the roots in their clay pots to steaming them…
That was some Denial right there. Anger was reserved for the climate change deniers and people who helpfully told me that my plants could have survived with even more watering. Bargaining was the ridiculous habit I had of still watering her stick figure remains in hope the roots came back this past spring.
I think what was hardest for me was the throwback memory I have of my first post-relationship gay friend here back in the early aughts. He was only a friend, but we’re really got to know each other deeply since we were both navigating traumatic waters at that point in our lives. He was in recovery for sex addiction before it became a fashionable excuse for misconduct among our powerful and famous men. But something he told me was that one of the steps he had to complete before he could date was to keep a plant alive for a year. It was an exercise in caring for another’s needs.
So, yeah. Losing Olive affected me. I don’t believe I will have another relationship in my life, but I want to know that I still could vis-a-vis successful plant husbandry. How’s that for a new twist on the old “It’s not me, it’s you” trope?
I didn’t replant my balcony for fall as I usually do. Nor did I plant anything this spring. I just kept watering Olive’s carcass.
The Silver Fox picked up his own Olive on one of his trips to Trader Joe’s. Sensing my interest when he told me, to promised to remain on the lookout for me on subsequent trips. But their plant inventory rotates so quickly that timing is critical.
Which is why I was excited to share this pic with him on my way home from a walk to my local TJs for cat treats yesterday.
Lil Olivier. They were out of the cat treats, BTW. The next best option – fried salmon skin – seemed like a sure thing, but Myrtle turned her nose up at them. My current mental exercise is debating whether to risk Olivier on my balcony or keep him inside where I only have to worry about Myrt.
The interesting thing to me is how my inside plants have benefited from my undivided attention over the last year. I went from a roster of four to fourteen in the past year. That’s including a pothos that I propagated a second plant from. There’s a third rooting out now and a jade that has two plants in one pot that I need to split out. My spider plant is throwing off some babies I need to trim and root out soon.
I’m starting to wonder where I can keep them as I look toward a plant stable approaching twenty by year-end. My apartment has limited window space. My living room wall is basically 16 feet of floor to ceiling window. My bedroom on the other hand has only two panes. Plus I’m pretty bad at opening the curtains, but I think that will be one of the next steps.
Right now, I’m using dense clustering as a defense against Myrtle’s rubbing them to death. She loves scratching her cheeks on them, but that’s generally to their detriment. To that end, when I started putting plants on window sills, I learned that I had to arrange the sill so there was no room for her to sit on the same sill.
Likewise, since my dracaena sits at the end of my TV console, I need to find a way to limit Myrtle’s ability to get to that end since she’s already snacking on it.
And the unsnacking all over the floor.
But enjoy the last few pics of my lil therapeutic plant farm while I resume my mental debate over Olivier’s initial home…
If you’re in the states, enjoy your extra day off on this three day holiday weekend. I’ll be potting at least one plant today or tomorrow!