When we moved out of our old house a year ago, I kept an empty flower pot; it moved house with us. If you know me, you might find that surprising (I am surprised at it myself, particularly given the fact that it has a small crack in it.) I find it cleansing to get rid of stuff. And yet, I must have had a vision for this pot.
Two months ago, I read an article about the value of keeping plants indoors to help clean the air inside a home. Ferns are especially good at this, I learned. We have clusters of ferns in our backyard, growing near our fence and a crepe myrtle tree. So, on a morning when we weren’t doing academics (we take Fridays off from school and do other learning activities instead–library, fun science experiments, play time at the park) I rallied my boys to help transplant some ferns into the old flower pot. We dug up a small bunch, packed it with dirt inside the cracked pot, and set it in our bathroom on a glass dish to catch water drips. Easy, quick project to bring the outdoors in…Months later, the ferns still look healthy. I’ve even spotted new growth. This surprises me almost as much as my choosing to keep the cracked flower pot surprises me, since I don’t always have great success with the keeping of plants.
Sunlight streams through the small window above it, and–of course–we water it. And so it thrives.
Not long before we moved into this house, my older son picked a bit of fern for me on a nature walk. It looked wind-blown and wilted by the time we got it home that afternoon, and he even recognized that it might not perk back up. But we still put it in a little jar of water that day and set it on the kitchen counter. A week or so later, after I had looked and looked and looked at the dry and crumbling stalk–realizing that it had been too far gone to rescue even when we first popped it in the water–I finally threw it out. It had no life left to nurture. But I didn’t throw out the water–the water remained in the jar (another sign that the little fern strand wasn’t healthy: It had never sucked up any of the water). I gave the water to another of our plants, an actual living house plant that we’d had for over a year. I made use of the valuable resource–water–in a better way, a more fruitful way, when I was able to get rid of the dead thing that was holding the water in reserve but not even using it.
I chose to get rid of what was dried up and dead so that I could use the resources allotted to that dead thing in another way, a better way. The ferns we keep in our house now, the tender green ones, drink up the water we pour into that slightly cracked pot. Those ferns are living, growing, and cleaning the air; they are worth the water.