Commentary: The quarantine coincided with spring, so there were a lot of long, hard looks at our yard and impulsive decisions made. A tree had started to grow in the small, shallow dirt that was well-dug for a different planned tree. We recognized the space usurper as a native tree we also had in the front yard and wanted to see if we could replant it to add more shade.
We dug it out, dismayed at how strong and thick the roots already were. The loud crack of the strong main root was somewhat chilling, but we had to think about how it might kill the planned tree if we were to let them grow together.
We put the tree in a planned location out front, nearby its cousin or mother tree. It immediately wilted. The leaves turned a sandy brown, and the entire tree drooped. We tied it to a stick, continued to water it and then started to feel slightly awkward when we'd come out see the now two sticks jutting up from the ground.
There were so many times I wanted to yank that stick out. It was a shameful gardening defeat, right there in the open for all drivers and neighborhood walkers to see. And yet ...
I thought of the classic book The Secret Garden, in which Dickon explains to Mary that in a seemingly dead garden, plants still have wick, an inner hidden part of life we can't see. I was encouraged by the regrowth of a fig tree in our backyard that had seemingly came back to life with lush, wide leaves and pulled itself toward the sun, so I trimmed the sad tree of its dead leaves and waited, hoping for a sign of the wick.
My husband remarked one morning, Do you see the bit of green growing At the base of the dead tree, small leaves sprouted. Our patience had been rewarded.
Some millennials are called out for their excessive love of houseplants, and there is a sly cynicism that I hear in responses like, Why not houseplants They are cheaper and easier than children. However, I wonder if the obsession isn't from learning more about patience and about biding our time, that growing things that have meaning does not happen instantly.
On the whole, millennials are not that young anymore — plenty in the late 20s, a good deal of us solidly in our 30s or on that downward slope toward 40. We've had time to see relationships grow and decline; to see the birth and growth of children; and to watch the virility of our parents fade into life's sunset. Time has become more of a companion than an abstraction. We see it touch our lives more now, but we also see the fading of powers that have been dictating The Way That It's Always Been and How It's Supposed to Be.
Maybe we grow plants because we are teaching ourselves patience to wait out a system that hasn't accepted the tendrils of our generation's power. Millennials, inured by the ravages of time and a system that makes us doubt our country's greatness, still have wick inside and wait for the wick's use in spring. When it seems that impotence is our lot, from only being able to watch the dismantlement of the post office and being asked to wildly laud an option to play it safe in politics, we may realize we are in a time to just wait, to water our inner lives and to be ready to bloom as seasons change.
Cassie McClure is a writer, wifemamadaughter, fan of the Oxford comma, and drinker of tequila. Some of those things relate. She can be contacted at email@example.com. To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.