Almost a whole year since I wrote about the enormous benefits of growing a handful of herbs in little pots on my balcony, my views on the matter remain the same. The biggest advantage of having fresh mint, dhaniya (yes, finally I managed to grow it!) a truckload of palak (which incidentally is the gift that just keeps giving), and a lone capsicum or two, close at hand is not the freshness of home-grown produce or the satisfaction of having grown something with your own hands. But the lessons in sheer patience that come out of it.
You can wait days on end, sneaking glances in the general direction of the pots that lie basking in the morning sun at a stipulated time everyday, beating yourself up over why the seeds haven’t visibly sprouted yet or the capsicum isn’t growing fast enough, but the tender little beings that plants are take their own little sweet time. Come rain or shine, they will sprout when they must, grow as they must and nothing you do can change that.
In these days of instant-everything, the element of surprise is no longer truly surprising. But my plants have brought back a fair bit of that joy to my life.
When I planted a first lot of frangipani cuttings in 2013, the damn things took a whole year to fully take root and went through several rounds of shedding very droopy, dead sets of leaves, before they began to look like they had any life in them. Once they began though, they’ve been sprouting leaves like it’s going out of style. But it wasn’t until a whole year after they were first planted that the first flowers began to bloom. Almost 18 months after they were first planted, when I noticed a little bunch of buds, I was slightly over the moon.
Patiently, I’d check on them every day, and what a thrill it is to notice even the minutest progress, the tightness of a bud that’s not read to see the world, the gentle way in which it slowly gives, opening up ever so gently, with a quiver in the slightest wind, petals reaching outwards as the days go by, until finally they’re open, screaming hello to the world at large. But the tree has been slightly stingy and given us just that one profusion of blooms, clustered one one little stalk, in all these months.
That long back story was just to tell you about these petite babies on a newer tree.
This is the wonderful thing about plants, and how they grow. The diversity, the differences, the uniqueness of each species. This is a whole different kind of frangipani – and I don’t mean just the size shape and colour of the leaves and flowers.
A few months ago I stuck a large cutting, a discarded large branch from my neighbours monthly frangipani trimming, into the ground in my backyard. I don’t know if was the monsoon goodness or the fact that there’s some septic tank goodness happening beneath the ground in those parts, but this tree began to sprout leaves in under a month since it was planted.
Since it’s at the back of the house, I didn’t have the chance to glance at it everyday. Until suddenly once fine day, about four weeks after I had planted it, I went back to take a look. To find a few dozen bunches of buds in full bloom. The tree was almost weighed down by the over-zealous plethora of flowers that seemed to be in such a rush to greet the world. This tree has turned into a far more generous, enthusiastic and bloom-on-tap kind of tree than the first lot I planted at the front of the house!
Growth is a funny thing. It only happens when the time is right. Sometimes you have to wait years just to see a little glimmer of something change. And sometimes it hits you in giant gusts, when you feel you’re not ready for it.
There are moments when you look at yourself, your situation and feel like nothing has changed in years, when actually all the important stuff is happening under wraps, in-waiting for the right moment, to burst forth.
Perhaps the nicest kind of growth is the kind that’s hidden. In a neglected, septic tank kind of spot in the yard, where you least expect anything nice to ever happen. But suddenly, unexpectedly, it does. And it is usually the most beautifully impactful kind of growth that has the potential to knock your breath out.
Growth. It’s basically just a waiting game. And I’ve learned that some days you’re the bud, waiting for your turn, for when the time is right. And some days you’re the flower, enjoying your day in the sun.