my green vermont

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Chlorophilia

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

Dies iraeI have experienced many days of politically induced ire since  2016, but nothing like this summer. Until the debate my wrath was focused on “the other guy,” with short redirects towards Biden for his handling of Gaza. But after the debacle my wrath shifted from its brightly colored target, who had predictably spouted the usual lies and non-sequiturs, to Biden, who is now compromising his legacy by staying in the race and guaranteeing the victory of his rival. And then there are the fires, floods, wars, judicial corruption, the worldwide rise in extremism, the huddled masses on the march to find a better life in the north…while I sit in air-conditioned comfort, wringing my hands to keep from tearing out my hair.

This is the moment when, as the plane is plummeting and the oxygen masks descend, it’s important to put on our own mask before assisting others. You know what I mean. Going mad with rage won’t help anybody, so it behooves us to do whatever we can to stay sane. At the moment my own oxygen mask  consists of looking at greenery.

I have never seen Vermont this green. It’s been a wet season, and the vegetable kingdom is in its glory. The echinacea, which used to reach my knees at best, now look me in the eye. The hosta leaves are the size of dinner plates. (I took a dinner plate to the backyard just now and compared. The leaf was bigger.) The trees are elbowing each other for space, their foliage tightly layered like croissant dough, aptly called mille feuilles. Looking out the window, I discern dozens of greens, from almost black to almost yellow, waving in the humid breeze, turning sunlight into oxygen.

Note that I said looking out the window, because it’s too hot to sit outside, because of climate ch…but never mind. Instead, I sit my tiny sun room, where the houseplants—jade tree, Swedish ivy, Christmas cactus, sansevieria, yucca, and fiddleleaf ficus—are enthroned. Note also that all these plants are either succulents or have tough, leathery leaves. I would give my eyeteeth for a delicate fern or palm, but my cat Telemann would shred it to bits as soon as I got it home.

Unlike the “wild” trees and bushes outdoors, the indoor plants are my pets, giving me my dose of green even when the outside plants are hibernating along with the bears. I like to have a plant at hands’ reach, to run my fingers along a spiky leaf as I read. I like it that, like dogs and cats, houseplants need care, which means that I can water them (but not as often as I would like), spritz them with water, and give them treats of spent tea leaves. But whether indoors or out, the sight of  green calms and reassures me. I wonder if it’s the color that is calming, or does my body at some basic cellular level sense the chlorophyll at work, keeping life going on our sad old planet?

If you too are afflicted by that combination of impotence and ire this summer, look up from your screen and gaze outside, or get a little plant and put it on your desk. The vegetable kingdom is still with us, eager to help. Let the green enter your eyes. Breathe it into your lungs. And let chlorophilia do its work, “annihilating all that’s made / to a green thought in a green shade.”*

*Andrew Marvell, “The Garden”

 

4 Responses

  1. thanks for the reminder. Some days it’s hard to remember there are things to be grateful for. I was recently closeby in New Hampshire and soaked in the beauty. Next time I will extend my visit to Vermont. Good to hear you are well.

  2. Thanks for bringing me to Wake Robin through your imagery. The dinner plate test cracked me up.

    I feel you on the chlorophilia. I have had many pleasant trips to the Utah desert, but I need to live in the green. Hood River, where I live, sits right on the edge of two biomes. Portland is an hour’s drive west of us and, during the wet months, there are literally 1000 waterfalls and millions of trees in those 60 miles. The city of The Dalles (named for the French word for trough because of the Columbia River’s depth there) is 25 miles east, and the hills that surround the city are bare and brown like pile of hairless cats. Our city lot has seven cedars, five black locusts, a poplar, two pines, a juniper, one each decorative cherry and crabapple, plus lilacs, laurels, privets, viburnum, willows, dogwoods, and dozens of smaller plants of various sun and shade tolerances (depending on their proximity to the cedars). We don’t get rain in the summer so don’t get the eye high growth you do, but it is still a chlorophiliac’s oasis.

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