“The Quercian motto is ‘Break but bend not'”

I don’t know why we aren’t more afraid of plants. Perhaps because they’re quiet, and slow, we lose track of what they’re about. No doubt they like it that way.

We have runner-grass in the yard—not St. Augustine, but some sort of close cousin—and when I go outside and idly cast my eyes across my gardens, I look for runners. Runners climbing up the beds near the grass, of course. Runners climbing through the dense thickets of ruellia, visible when their blades reach above the level of the flowers. Runners working their way through the stones, runners poking blades up through the two feet of mulch laid over the place where all the grass was taken away. Persistent. Or is it relentless?

We planted a long trellis with jessamine vines, in the tiny space between our driveway and the lot line. A long time ago, that… I’m not sure their little white starry flowers are really jessamine. They, too, grow and grow and grow, in the way of vines, reaching blindly into the air for support. Grabbing a fence, or a tree… or the car, unsuccessfully, as it drives down the driveway. My Sweetie really dislikes the vines when they do this. They’re so spindly I find it funny—until I try to persuade them not to grow through the neighbor’s yard, or cannibalize one of the trees. Their hooks are hard to dislodge, and their strands refuse to break.

Then there are the trees growing above the level of the elevated on-ramp I frequently take. One can see how flattened they are by the years of road-crews trimming up vertically from the barrier. Still, today their tops had started to reach back over the highway’s shoulder, like an anvil cloud. The crews will need to come back next spring, if not this winter—the trees are striving to balance themselves out again, semi-tractors be damned.

One of these days I’ll find the right voice to embody these growing things. To write a persona-work, like U. K. LeGuin’s “Direction of the Road,” which I read in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters.

Gleeful and mischievous? Grim? Dark and tenacious, like the villain in a superhero movie?

How might I illustrate that maybe we should keep a closer eye on plants?


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