things die

“I kill everything.” people tell me that all the time - a blanket apology to all the leaves that have wilted under their watch. the world is covered with seemingly good people whose black thumbs have slain millions of plants. plant serial killers. call the plant police.

well, murderers. wipe the chlorophyll off your hands. sometimes things also just die. without being neglected, over-watered, poorly potted or improperly sunned. it’s sweet of you to carry the weight on your shoulders, but give yourself a break. you aren’t the master of your plants, you’re just a friend. help when you can, reap the benefits of good times and just like anything else in life, you have to let go when the time comes. 

there are plants called annuals. they live for a season and then die. zinnias will die. vegetables will die. you will plant seeds, watch them grow, move them outside, pick food and then one day the leaves will seem yellow and dry. sickly. the vines will wither. blossoms will no longer swell to make fruit. you didn’t kill it - it died. it always would. there are equal parts germination and decomposition. fruit and rot. life and death.

other plants are perennials. they only seem like they die. they dry, wither, turn black, stubby. you look at your pot of mint with black sticks that used to be leaves and think, “it’s dead,” but it’s not. nothing can be green all the time. the life force is resting in the roots, conserving energy for better weather and fresh rain. one day your potted wasteland will have a tiny green leaf poking out of a black stump. in a few weeks there will be so many green leaves you won’t remember what it used to be. you will sit with it through a hard time, and it will survive.

a plant that does not want to die, won’t. and a dead plant gives you its future in a seed, whether you plant it or not, and it knows its own way. you will plant strawberries on the left side of your yard and next spring find them growing out of cracks in your driveway. birds help, wind helps. you aren't in charge of everything, you're just paying attention.

meanwhile, this also applies to everything.