In interviews, I am often asked to relate my “Genesis” story. “How did you get started gardening?.” It seems like such a simple question. You’d think I’d have a great response in the back of my pocket by now, given that I have been called upon to answer it countless times. Instead, my response is always the same: sheer panic.
“Uh. Well. You see. It’s sort of a long story to tell. Ummmmmmmmmmm… It’s, uh, complicated.” Fumble, fumble, stammer.
It’s not that I don’t know my own story, it’s that it is not a story with a single, definable beginning. The way I see it, there are many things in life that are like this. Sometimes there is no singular act that sets you off on a path, but several acts and experiences — some conscious and others unconscious, that lead you to a destination that you may not have been able to foresee.
After the initial fumbling, my response to this simple/big question is often to begin with my first plant. I’m not certain that it is the beginning of this thing that I do (growing things), but it is an important experience that I can recall with clarity. I was only five at the time and growing a plant was not an activity that I had a hand in choosing. However, my memory of it is telling and a reminder that the urge to connect to the natural world in some way was always there, even if it took me a while to put conscious thought and action to it.
So this is where I thought we’d begin. At the beginning. But not really.
Grow Write Guild Prompt #1: Write about your first plant.
- How old were you when you grew this plant?
- Where did you grow it (city, country, someone’s house, your own home, in a pot, in a garden)?
- How did you come by the plant? (Did you buy it as a mature plant? Grow it from seed? Was it a gift? Did you steal it?)
- What drew you to the plant? (Aesthetic: color, shape, form? Did it look tasty? Smell nice? Have an appealing texture?)
- Did you know anything about this plant before you decided to grow it?
- Did you have an emotional attachment or memory around this particular plant or type of plant before you decided to grow it? If yes, what was it?
- Did you enjoy growing the plant or was it a negative experience?
- Where is the plant now (alive; long dead; you ate it; it died, but spawned progeny that lives on)?
Now, I realize upon writing this, that there may be many of you out there for which this prompt has created panic much in the way that the Genesis question does for me. “But I don’t remember my first plant!!! I hate you and your stupid question!”
Don’t worry if you can’t recall your first plant. Or your second. Or your third, forth, fifth… one hundredth. Instead, write about the very first plant you do remember, or the one that pops into your mind as you read this sentence. There is no right way to respond to the prompt (or any of these prompts). Go with what comes up. You can even write about how much you hate me AND my stupid question, just as long as you send along a personal check to help pay for my next therapy session.