I have not been one who nurtures plants very well. Sometimes they grow, sometimes they don’t. I don’t know if I have the right soil, the right amount of sun (doesn’t everyone need all day sun??), the right temperature…there really does not seem to be a whole lot that I do that predicts the fate of leafy greens that are brought under my care. There have been years when I have had so much greenery growing in my home that I felt my thumb just beginning to show its own shades of green, and there have been years when I have sheepishly thrown withered, brown stalks encased in dry, hardened earth into garbage bins and dumpsters. Throughout my adult life, there has not been a time when I have had some plants flourish while others died slow, neglected deaths; it really has been an all or nothing kind of a thing for me.
I wonder if my way with plants is also my way with students….following my instincts, watching to see what may work, attempting to read research and growing bored with the vernacular of the insiders who tell tales about their successful gardens. Sometimes the most neglected plants flower and show beauty that takes my breath away. Sometimes the plants grow in surprising ways, defying traditional conventions, challenging established wisdom. Although I have never picked up a student and tossed him or her into an equivalent receptacle, there have been far too many students who did not get the best of me. Not by a long shot.
It does seem that there is a lesson to be learned here, a lesson about community and environments and interconnectedness. A lesson about moderation and luck, about knowing when to interfere and knowing when to just wait patiently.