I did not have any kinship with plants of any kind growing up. My experience was all vicarious. I was envious of my grandmother's ability to grow food and to preserve it; her dedication to, diligence with, and meticulous care of her rose garden and 12' x 20' iris bed confused me. And, too, I was in awe of my mother's affinity for and success with houseplants. But my personal unsuccessful experience with plants left me with an antipathy toward them, to the point where I would declare my own “Black Thumb,” when offered a seedling or cutting by some well-intentioned acquaintance.
I always had a deep affection for fauna, whether domesticated or wildlife, but never made the crossover into acknowledging a kinship with Mother Nature's flora. At least not until there was Gracie. It just so happened that one day, as I pulled open a peeled grapefruit to eat, there she was. With a determination I had never seen, she sprouted inside this piece of fruit. Observing the determination to survive in that moment inspired me, and I was determined to honor it.
Horticulture was a stranger, as was asking for help for my new adoptee, so I went it alone, just me and Black Magic potting soil. I found her a place by a window, near the heat register. To my amazement, she survived, despite my self-deprecating internalization of and guilt for my dreadful plant-murdering past that had earned me the “Black Thumb” demerit badge.
Although there was a constant nagging in a corner of my conscientiousness suggesting my care for her (including personification with a name and gender identification) was anthropomorphic folly, it was quite easy to ignore when my focus was on Gracie's determination to survive and the needful hope it afforded me with my own struggles.
I do not know how, but after thriving for over five years in the Pacific Northwest—and
for the most part indoors—Gracie was infected with a fungus common to citrus farming regions. The solution was apparently readily available, just not in Oregon. Shipping the miracle fungicide across state-lines was prohibited. I tried DIY and homeopathic remedies, but to no avail. She began to wither, as did my hope for ever seeing her live to bear fruit.
It was heartbreaking to part with her, but I did. Taking her outside I dug a plot in which I laid her alongside grapefruit peelings to commemorate her fortitude and die-hard determination. She changed my way of thinking about life, offering me insight, humility and kinship through our seasons together. She continues to grow in my heart, mind, and memory, and thus bearing a forever kind of fruit. Thanks, Gracie.
Self-identifying as a neurodiverse, two-spirit, elder storyteller deeply rooted in the Great Pacific Northwest, Lindsey Morrison Grant attributes success and survival, if not salvation, to a superlative support system, mindfulness practice, and daily creative expression in words, sounds, and images.
Belle Pace is a freelance photographer and writer from Richmond, Virginia. This is her debut art publication.