Surviving

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I have never been much of a gardener. I should be – there are green thumbs sprouting out all over both sides of the family. And I just feel like it should be something I can do. I absolutely love flowers. I love how they can brighten someone’s whole day just by being their lovely selves. And flowers will always remind me of my beautiful grandma and the joy she found in her roses and lilies. But despite all this, somehow plants in my care are almost always severely neglected, left without water or adequate sunlight. It’s not that I don’t care, I just forget. If only a plant could be more like a child or a pet, crying or complaining when it’s hungry to remind you what it needs. Instead, they just silently wither away and leave me feeling very guilty and negligent and swearing never to try that again.

So when I spontaneously planted some little flower seeds I found at the volunteer house in my first few weeks here, I did not have high hopes. I had to assume that like everything else in Jamaica, this would not go according to plan. I sought advice on how to plant them and where to place the pot and I hoped for the best while expecting the worst. So I was totally astonished to see little green shoots bursting from the dirt less than a week later. My amazement has only grown as they continue to grow slowly but steadily. They have been without water for days at a time, then completely flooded by tropical downpours. And yet they just keep on pushing their heads upwards and their leaves outwards, as proud and as green as can be.

Now I am tentatively imagining that maybe they will even bloom before I leave. But first I know I must take them out of their protective but restrictive plastic tubs and set them free in the vast dirt outside. They can never hope to reach their full potential when their roots cannot roam far and wide. I worry about all the things that could go wrong – how do I know when they are strong enough for this big transition? What if I put them in soil that doesn’t have enough nutrients? Or what if my fragile little seedlings get washed away in another unforgiving storm? But I should have faith – they have withstood all the challenges that have been thrown at them so far, and they only grow stronger every day.

Recently I shared my surprise that the little plants were actually alive with a local who shrugged and said, “Of course – they have to be very tough to survive in Jamaica.”

I smiled. Indeed.

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