My grandmother was a florist, and she often talked about how the secret isn’t in having a green thumb — it is in talking to your flowers. I have definitely taken her advice in my home filled with plants, as they each have names and often hear me telling them how beautiful they are and how grateful I am for there presence. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was for my plants to respond and talk back to me. It’s funny that I should be so surprised, too, because in Peter Wohlleben’s “The Hidden Life of Trees”, he goes into great factual detail about how plants can feel, hear, smell, communicate, defend, and even count. These living organisms we do life with are more aware than we can possibly imagine — but sometimes, they do something to help us catch just a glimpse of understanding.
4 months ago on my 26th birthday, I made a trip to the Cactus Store here in Echo Park. I had been dying to go there for so long, so I put my Troll dog in the car and we made it a girls trip. Upon my arrival, I was instantly in cactus heaven and began my search for the newest member of the plant baby family. That’s when a man behind the counter, Josh, stopped me and said, “Someone named Brian called in here — he already ordered a cactus for you. Happy birthday.”
Josh went on to tell me that while rare, this particular cactus could potentially flower if it is well cared for and very happy in it’s environment. He gave me some cactus food to help it thrive during the summer months (which is now something that I hand out at my houseplant workshops), and sent me on my way.
Over the past few months, I have been feeding Josh (oh yeah — I named my birthday cactus after him) and waiting patiently — hoping that someday he might flower. Some cacti don’t flower for 30-40 years, and when they do, sometimes it only lasts a couple of hours. Two days ago, out of seemingly nowhere, I noticed that Josh had a little bump on his head. After realizing that he wasn’t turning into a unicorn, it dawned on me: he was getting ready to flower.
Yesterday I literally watched it bloom before my eyes. Words and photos really don’t give any justice to how magical this experience really was. I travel a lot for shoots and find myself out of town quite a bit, and I felt so honored and grateful that I was home and present for this rare and beautiful moment.
While I have now become a bit enamored with Josh’s yellow flower hat and don’t want to see it go, I am finding that there is a huge lesson in this visual show for me. Life really is about being in-tune and paying attention to what is happening right now. Every bloom is temporary, and nothing can bloom in every single season. It’s about remaining present and nurturing what we have, and then living in wonder and gratitude while it gets to show off.
And a very special thanks to Brian for my birthday cactus, because it is still giving me gifts.