Saturday, February 22, 2014

What Plant Would You Be?

Many years ago, journalist Barbara Walters was widely mocked for asking the actress Katherine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be.  She asked that question in response to Hepburn stating that she would like to be a tree.  Hepburn chose oak, because they are strong and pretty.

I've been working on a book lately, and the process of writing leads my mind in a lot of unusual directions.  Last night that meant considering what kind of plant I would be.  Lots of my friends talk about what sort of animal they would be, often based on the Animal Tarot, or totem animals, yet even though so many of us work with plants day in and day out, I can't recall talking the plants we feel we are most like.

My own first thought last night was of thick, dense moss growing by a creek.  Soft and lush, close to the earth, that seems familiar.

A couple of years ago I took a workshop at The Rosemary House with Pam Montgomery that involved sitting with plants and really observing them. While I was looking forward to it, at no point did I actually think that I'd "get it."  We all want to connect with the plants, but seem to think that they only talk to others.  Being compelled to sit there with a hops vine, it wasn't long before I was observing how strong it was, and how the tendrils reached ever higher, letting nothing stop its progress.  I remember looking at the flowers and noting how hard it worked to procreate.  15 minutes in, I realized that I was relating to the growth of the vine, the struggles, and her appearance that while not particularly showy, was stunning when looked at on more than a superficial level.

Since then, I think of plants differently.  For example...

Wild Ginger, with such hidden, unassuming blossoms, spicy roots, and glossy leaves.

Blueberry - dainty blooms, vibrant fruits.  Grow in bunches.  Vivid tough leaves.

The ultimate trumpet - but remains hidden, building strength underground for 10 months each year.

Toadflax - beautiful, under appreciated, little dragons

Motherwort - prickly, layers, flowers nearly invisible, up, up, up.

Plantain - lush rosette, ribbed leaves, close to the ground with inconspicuous bloom stalk.  Whip like.

Poppy - stunning, papery, soft, swelling ovary, waving in the wind above cut leaves.

So you see, there's a start.  A very rudimentary beginning to thinking about the personalities of plants.  So often we name them after people, and vice versa.  Rose, Sage, and Jasmine, for instance.  I know some people who are Stinging Nettles.  They are lush and nourishing, but take an awful lot of work to stay on their good side.  I know mighty white pine people, with soft needles, pliable arms, and a notable weakness when piled too high with heavy snow.  I know beautiful echinaceas that offer creatures shelter in storms and seeds for birds in winter, and appear strong in the spring, ready to do it again.  Many times when I get to know a plant these days, I can align it with a human acquaintance.

So what plant would you be?  Have you thought about it at all?  I think we're all several plants, depending on our moods and circumstances, but it's fun to consider.


Marnie said...

What a thought provoking blog! I know what you mean, about how maybe other people "connect" to the plants, but you never thought you did. THIS makes sense to me.

It's going to be difficult to think of a plant that I can truly identify with without being biased and picking my favorite. Hmmmm....

Lady of the Woods said...

This is a wonderful exercise! I'm going to think about it, but the first thing that popped into my mind, was moss....which I am currently in love with and just purchased some. It is very wise and ancient, stalwart, beautiful and velvety, you can walk on it and it remains strong, gets nourishment from the air mostly like a breatharian, dependent on little, can survive in all kinds of ph and do well, will adapt itself and move when needed, is not a single entity but a collection of many who are closely knit together, and finally a rich verdant green whose vibrancy can take ones breath away whether in tiny gardens or an entire landscape! However, I am named by the Dryads, the Tree People, and some of them speak to me. I have many amazing stories about this, some quaint and enchanting and some full of anguish. I believe trees and moss are not separate beings, only different expressions of the same, like a human with flesh and limbs and hair which covers the body, lush in some places :D and a crowning glory! Lovely thoughts to begin a day where I need to be physically still.

Reifyn said...

I really love birch trees—so either a birch, or a weeping-willow or a pussy-willow. I love all trees really, but these ones I have fond memories of as a child. I've thought of this question's usually a tree I'd like to be other than another type of plant, because they live quite a while in quietude and ruminate and think over things very slowly and observe time at a completely different pace than we ever could: they are very patient, are trees. And ones that get to sleep during the winter are more to my liking than having to be awake all the time.

nicole alexander said...

I did something like this in a class at the Florida herbal conferance last year. the two herbs that i sat in front of and felt a connection with was lemon balm and hibiscus. I would add these herbs ( I would like to be various times) stinging nettle,oats and hawthorn. I use all these herbs regularly.

Anonymous said...

You may find looking at Celtic astrology interesting, it relates each of us to a tree :)

Wildflower said...

I feel a strong connection to Stinging Nettle but I think that if I had a plant identity, it would be oatstraw. It's gentle, nourishing, and capable of great passion. :-)

MoonMaid Botanicals said...

I would be a dandelion!!! Great blog post!!


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