In the greenhouse the air is warm and humid, and I often go there even when there aren’t specific tasks to attend to. Even when the only activity is just to stand or sit and feel the warmth, to study the seedlings and their progress. This task, this quiet observation, could be considered less crucial to their development than watering them or maintaining the correct temperature and humidity levels. But even after 8 seasons, (and I suspect and hope this is true after 20 more) I still find awe in watching a seed take root and begin to rise. How does it know what to do? I don’t think I’ll ever stop wondering.
The December 2013 issue of the New Yorker contains a nearly 11 page article written by Michael Pollan, discussing the potential intelligence and emotional capabilities of plants. Not surprisingly, there is much research being done in several disciplines and a fair amount of disagreement. As someone who spends many cumulative hours with plants, I hold to the belief that they contain both intelligence and emotion – though perhaps not in the way we as humans generally perceive either of those things.
But even if I can’t conclude with certainty that communing with the seedlings the way I like to do in the early season – studying their singular white root as it emerges and pokes into the soil, waiting for the seed casing to lift into the air on the tip of the cotyledon like a tiny hat – is particularly beneficial to them, I can conclude that it is very beneficial to me. At this time of year that act, more than anything else, makes me crave the season that is to come. Another chance to do right by these tiny miracles. So here’s to seeds, and to the act of mixing them with soil and water and giving them warmth. A plant is born.