Colour Me Gunga Din, Laurel

I have been busy beautifying the dirty strip of coarse grasses along the north wall of this African compound, by planting flowers and bushes. I have three kinds of plant there now, one flowering, one the local equivalent of the privet and a big one that looks somewhat like a variegated laurel; I have no idea of their names. Here on the Equator you can practically watch them growing; if only I had a farm gate to lean on!

Investing my pets with personality, as one does, I am impelled to wonder what they would say about me if they could talk. To them, I would be a creature that adopted them, gave them a comfortable hole to wiggle their roots in, and water (from an artesian well) twice a day at a time when none falls from the sky. “We have him well trained,” they might say.

An animal might say the same, and we all know that cats are expert human-trainers, but an author I know takes it a step further. She points out that we help the plant reproduce, like “bigger, smarter bees”, and improve their species characteristics. She quips that plants have, in fact, domesticated humans.

Perhaps the only thing preventing most of us recognising this every day is our animal-centric outlook that measures everything not only by quickness of motion, but also by hustle and bustle. (Although in fact plants do hustle; we know that a forest is a theatre of war, as they try to shade each other out and poison one another. If, to stop-motion photography we were to add false colour for offensive and defensive chemicals, it might be quite the action movie.) If we adjust for speed, perhaps my ornamental does have me trained; away this weekend, I did fret about her getting her drinks. Well, I would rather be the slave of a laurel-like bush than the slave of the Nollywood soap opera, like everyone else here.

Posted on April 1, 2009 at 14:01 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, Beings and Gentlebeings

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