This week, I've been thinking a bit about the differences between animal people and plant people.
In my family, with the exception of one trial day with a kitten, we didn't have pets. When on occasion we pet-sat for friends, we invariably ran into tragicomic problems. My friend Connie's Shih-tzu scampered all the way back to her own home, a third of a mile away, in an unattended moment - we finally found her pawing at her front door, hoping to be let in. I was surprised to be reproached by another friend for the dirty condition in which we returned his dog after his family vacation (we didn't understand that bathing was part of our duties!)
By contrast, everyone in my family loves plants, whether in gardens or out in nature. Plants are one of the rare things we can all enjoy. I would venture to say, we're plant people.
For myself, I am baffled to recall that as a child, I would pore over the Breck's bulb catalog, absorbing the photos of varietals and garden layout diagrams with great and entirely hypothetical engagement. At recess, I would collect wild violets through the chainlink fence day after day, wrapping them in a wet paper towel in the ever-dashed hope that they might stay fresh until I got home. I remember urging a friend to experiment in chewing the lemon sorrel that grew on the softball field (our distraction from the game was a given).
So, in a move that seems inevitable but thrilling all the same, I've set up really plant-oriented Wednesdays for myself for the next couple of months.
In the morning, I'll be at Sprout Brooklyn to learn about indoor plants as part of their internship (!) program. And in the evening, I've enrolled in formal botanical illustration course at the midtown location of the NYBG.
Across both, I am already teasing out the idea of recognizing the individuality of a plant or a species, whether in learning to care for it or to capture it through art.