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Plants are the only thing anchoring me to reality (except for my dog, Bacchus, who is an angel)

Weird year, huh? Weird and exhausting. When the quarantine started, I wasn’t too shaken up since I’ve been working from home for about 5 years now; but after about a month of sharing my usually empty workspace with roommates who had to stay home from their offices, of getting anxiety just from grocery shopping, of missing my friends and bingeing so. Many. Netflix shows, I (as I think many others did) entered a really uncomfortable headspace. I still don’t know what day it is half the time.

While listening to Sawbones, a podcast I love and have also been bingeing heavily, I caught their discussion about why time seems to be out of whack lately. Our brains latch onto novelty--think your first kiss or the first time you landed a backflip (which is definitely not a memory I’ve formed)--as landmarks in time. That’s why time seemed to pass so much slower when you were a kid: everything still seemed new. Right now, we’re spending day after day in the same spaces, working on the same tasks, and seeing the same faces around the house. There’s little novelty beyond new episodes and movie releases, so we’re caught in a weird time vortex.

Plant care days have always been my favorite days, and they’ve been especially important in recent months. I’m not alone in that, either--major houseplant retailers like The Sill have reported record sales during the pandemic, and people are posting plant memes on Instagram like there’s no tomorrow. Plants give my brain that novelty it craves, in new leaves and unfortunately sometimes in new pests or sicknesses. Plants also give me something to track that’s not a business deadline--3 days since this one last flowered, one week after this seed was planted.

For me, plants also offer an outlet for communication. Talk about crazy plant lady, right? Seriously, though, plants are a study in nonverbal communication. Which plants droop when they’re thirsty? Which ones need to be rotated away from the sun? Which plants need to be repotted, and which ones are ready to propagate? If you listen to a calathea long enough, you might even hear its leaves rustle as they shift. They don’t replace person-to-person conversations, of course, but they help.

Bottom line: plants spread happiness. There have been numerous psychological studies showing that the presence of plants and flowers reduce stress, provide a little serotonin boost, and create an atmosphere of calmness. Beyond the science, though, a plant is a reflection of the love you pour out. You can tell when you’ve made a plant happy pretty easily when it rewards you with gorgeous new leaves and exciting growth.

I’m so glad I entered this quagmire of a year with some of my favorite planties. Were you a plant fanatic before the pandemic, or did you get started during quarantine? How have your fronds helped you during the tough times? Share your story with me in the comments below.

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