Boaz is still out of town so it’s just me here, taking care of his 43 houseplants.
Only 43? I can almost hear Boaz saying as I type this. There should be 46, which ones do you think you’re missing? Did you get the fern on the left side of the dresser? Not the dresser with the potted moss on it — the dresser that has the four succulents.
There are probably a few dozen more plants hidden under the bed, or in the cupboard behind the granola, or some other last place I’d expect. I’m only watering the ones I can find, and there are 43 of those.
We have so many plants. Or Boaz does. A week ago I called them our plants. A week ago I talked about the home garden with the smugness of a man who says “We’re pregnant” when his wife is. “We love plants.” I’d say, oblivious to the unspeakable burden that is actually caring for 43 different plants on a daily basis.
Well not every day.
The outside plants, yes, every day. Of course. But inside, the tropical plants get watered 2-3 times a week depending on the size of their pot. And the succulents, those only need to be watered every 7-10 days, depending on soil wetness, root density, proximity to a window, and whether or not Mercury is in retrograde. I look up photos of the rainforest and the desert and study them on my phone as I walk around our apartment jungle trying to figure out what’s what. I’ve solved all of them except one. “Tell me what you are” I whisper angrily to that one in the corner that really could be either a fern or a succulent. I really want these plants to live.
When he’s here, Boaz waters the outside plants in the morning. So for the first few days I did that too. Watering plants in the morning is nice, it feels like something Oprah probably does. You can pick tomatoes and eat tomatoes for breakfast.
But then one day I forgot about them until I was brushing my teeth that night, so I watered the plants at 1am. Oprah, it’s so much better.
Now I only water the plants at night. Now my favorite part of the day is going out on our balcony and quietly watering four tomato plants and three strawberry plants and a zucchini in almost pitch darkness.
While I’m watering them (Boaz says you have to water tomatoes slowly, is he messing with me?) I watch tv in our neighbours’ windows. No one has curtains in our neighborhood.
It’s so quiet that you can hear the plants drinking the water like someone sucking the last bit of milk through a straw.
Since everything fun has some sort of side effect, I’m sure this is bad somehow. Maybe it gives the plants stomachaches, maybe it keeps them up all night. Maybe it puts
our Boaz’s produce on some sort of lunar cycle, maybe they’ll all start menstruating and we’ll have tomatoes filled with blood. When you’re out there in the moonlight with the watering can it sort of feels possible.
At night all the strawberries have shiny leaves, almost reflective, and they look sweaty in the best way. And all the spiders are asleep, or that’s what I tell myself.
I’m excited for Boaz to get back, and it’s not just because last week I had to cut into a carton of ice cream with a paring knife because I couldn’t open it myself. And it’s not just because all the Shabbat songs sound weird when you sing them alone. And it’s not just because he can get all our plants back to a regular sleep schedule.
I’m excited for Boaz to get back so he can tell me once and for all WHAT THAT ONE PLANT IS. Is it a fern. Is it a cactus. Are there tropical plants that grow in the desert? I need answers.