Essay: Mystery Plant

Sep 28, 2018

Last fall, a book of my essays was published and I hosted a “launch party” to celebrate. It was a fun, informal gathering and I was pleased to greet many friends and colleagues. One of the guests brought me a tiny green plant as a gift. I thanked her but was too distracted to register her name. The next day, I admired the little plant more closely—its unusual green and pink leaves—and learned from the plastic tag that its name is “Fittoria.” And I tried very hard to picture the woman who had placed it on the table—and could not.  That was many months ago now and the mystery plant is thriving. It has grown so large, in fact, that I have had to repot it twice—and I only wish I could tell my generous friend this good news. Instead, every week when I water my house plants, I pause to acknowledge the Fittoria and feel grateful to all the people who might have given it to me. Once I said “Thank you” to my husband long after the fact and he merely nodded. “Don’t you want to know why I’m thanking you?” I asked. “Not really,” he said. “Generic gratitude is good.” And so it is.