In 1998, I bought a little African Violet for my newly acquired apartment. The only bathroom was tucked away at the top of th stairs, functional and uncomplicated, as they were designed in 1928. The hurricane-proofed, cinder block walls made for a deep window sill in the shower, and here is where I put the 4″ plastic starter pot, overflowing with deep green, velvety leaves and royal purple flowers.
African Violets love east/west light. In the right environment, they need little care and they will last years and years. Somehow, I happened upon a plant that is perfectly suited for my pale green thumb. Every time I need to undo some kind of stress, especially that particular type caused by narcissistic, careless humans, I go over to my violets and inspect them. I remove dying leaves. I check the soil to make sure that it is just moist enough. I nervously and reluctantly repot if it is “necked.” And then, when I see them bloom, I breathe deeply a satisfaction that surprises even me. I now have 7 flourishing plants, two of which are the result of my own propagating efforts.
There is a school of thought, a philosophy, even a science called sun gazing. It expresses that idea that we are physiologically connected to the sun and everything that grows from it. It’s a bit new-agey, but to me, it makes sense that we are connected to the planet in a very organic way. That, I surmise, is why tending to and breathing on my violets has such a zen effect on me. Everyone should find some plant with which they connect. It’s good for the soul.