On a beautiful Thursday afternoon in April, Mom and I drove up the Palmetto Expressway to N. Miami Beach to meet Jonathan Kendall, a reporter for the Miami New Times. The week before, Jonathan had written an article about a talk I was giving in Miami about the Music of the Plants as part of Damanhur Florida. It was Easter weekend, so he wasn’t able to attend in person, and instead sent me a list of interview questions. The article came out on April 15th, and it sparked a flurry of messages between Jonathan and myself about plant communication, music and the desire to bring more conscious awareness to S. Florida.
Rather than continue writing in bite-sized chunks, Jonathan and I agreed to meet at the Fresh Market in Aventura for a demonstration and discussion. Driving up, I was a bit nervous because I did not have my device and battery kit, I had borrowed one from Toni Saul, a beautiful being that graciously lent me her device after I sold the ones I had brought with me from Italy. She didn’t have a battery kit though, so Jonathan and I spent a long time trying to think of a place that had power outlets and plants close to one another.
Jonathan is a S. Florida native and Harvard grad. Young and enthusiastic, he jumped right in with questions about the nature of plant communication and what plants are trying to tell us. The conversation was quick-paced and high-energy, but we were missing a central part: plant music! There was no way to hook up the nearby trees or grass without risking bodily injury to passersby from tripwire like cords, so Jonathan went into the market and bought a plant. He had been wanting to get one as a housewarming present for his mother anyway.
Begonia was lovely, and we quickly hooked her up to hear… nothing. Really, nothing. She was totally silent. For the next hour, we talked about the importance of being in contact with the plant world in the city, how plant music can help people connect to nature, and how amazing it would be to do an installation of the Music of the Plants at Omni Park in Miami. (side note: I would still love to see this happen, so if you know anyone I could talk to about it, please contact me).
With every sentence, the realization of all the things plants do for us and how much we take them for granted sunk in a little deeper. Jonathan—and my Mom, who is not really a plant person—thought over their own lives, putting together the various pieces like a cosmic puzzle of the species. Only that Begonia still wasn’t playing. She just sat there, looking silently in that special way she does. We speculated on why she didn’t want to speak with us, working through her birth in some industrial farm, and then being put in the middle of a supermarket to be ignored by people looking for avocados. We talk about organic labeling, but we don’t think about it in terms of houseplants—we don’t think that the plants for sale at the grocery store are probably filled with pesticides and were not raised “free-range”. Just because we don’t eat them, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat them with the same respect we do for edible plants. We forget that our daily contact with nature is predominantly with the selfless plants that care for us in our homes—purifying the air, producing oxygen, and creating an environment for us to thrive in.
As we were getting ready to pack everything up, Jonathan had a revelation that lead him to understand that we need to recognize the beauty of the flower, as in saying that our flowering plants are just as important in the natural ecosystem as trees in the park and lettuce on our plates. And as the words tumbled from his mouth rich in understanding, Begonia began to play. Her music was as rich as the words spoken, filled with harmony and depth. Even Mom was touched by the connection between what Jonathan had come to understand in that hour and Begonia’s affirmation. It felt like she was confirming his realization and adding her own thoughts on the matter.
Begonia now lives with Jonathan’s mother in her new home. I often wonder what other knowledge she is transmitting to her new family. She definitely left a mark in my life…
When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment…. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not. Georgia O’Keeffe
Have you had a special moment or realization with a plant? I would love to hear about it!
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Also published on Medium.