Too Small a Pot?

Too Small A Pot?

(A small offering today, one that has been waiting in the wings.  After a mild winter it has been back to back snowstorms on the Front Range of Colorado and my thoughts have turned to my indoor plants, an eclectic bunch of oxygen generators that lift my spirits, especially on these dark winter days.)  

In May of 1977 I became the proud owner of a schefflera plant. I bought it from a nursery in Buffalo and brought it home in my 1976 Ford Maverick, blue with a white vinyl roof.

A couple years later, after we moved to Long Island, I took the plant to my office. It was in a twelve-inch pot, happy as a schefflera could be. New shoots erupted every season and the plant looked beautiful against the window. Whenever Cathy came to the office she told me I needed to repot the schefflera. The plant seemed happy so I rejected her overtures until we moved to Colorado.

Shortly before we left East Islip I repotted the plant in a much larger container and moved it to the Long Island apartment I kept for seven more years. Much to my chagrin the plant grew – like kudzu. The schefflera turned into a very spindly tree. Every time I returned to Long Island the plant looked like it had sprouted another arm. It looked like the leader of the Knights who say “Ni” in Spamalot. The plant made me want a nightlight. The person who watched the apartment for me watered the plant once a week. I thought of asking her to skip a month, or six. I should never have repotted the plant.

I had a friend who was a fine husband, a devoted father, a good pastor. Yet everyone told him he should leave his vibrant ministry to take a big church in a big city. Insinuating he lacked courage they would ask, “Are you afraid to grab the brass ring?” But my friend had already grabbed the brass ring. He loved his wife, tended his garden, cared for the parishioners in his small church. Like the protagonist in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, he loved well and was well loved. Nothing was broken. Nothing needed repotted. He had bloomed where he was planted – a happy man.

When I gave up my New York apartment I gave the gangly schefflera to one of Jana’s friends. Much as I disliked its looks I couldn’t throw it out. I’d had it for 36 years. Instead I cut it back, squeezed it into my SUV and took it to her house. It’s still in its gigantic pot. Jana’s friend says it is beautiful. I have my doubts.

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