Cutting away the death

When the winter comes and freezing temperatures are the norm and snow is either blanketing the ground or a breath is time to bring my potted plants in for the season. For the first year I can remember, nearly all of my plants are alive. (I cannot, for the life of me, keep a Basil plant alive.) But, that's not what I thought when I'd first brought the plants indoors.

I thought that, not only had the basil died, but the mint and oregano had died, too. The pots were full of brown, dead limbs, and the few spots of green were quickly fading. I was sure that I was going to spend my winter with my cactus, my rosemary, my sage (that seems like it wants to die every other day and then springs back to life), my lavender, and my little chamomile plant that died but had suddenly sprung back a few weeks ago.

These limbs, though, this pile of twigs and dead leaves that were shedding all over my floor...these made me a bit upset. I had devoted time to these plants. Didn't they know? Didn't they know how much I wanted them to live and grow and enrich my life as I took care of them? Couldn't I do something right?

It's not that I made some huge deal over the dead plants. I'd gotten used to killing them. In fact, I keep a store of pots in my garage that start off full of green, growing things in the spring and end up empty and back on the shelf by sometime mid-fall. Something came over me this time. They weren't dead, or, at least, I wasn't accepting it.

With kitchen shears and an hour of pruning back tough limbs and carefully maneuvering around green spots, I was able to cut away the dead, twisted limbs. The parts that were gone and were not coming back. I had a trash bag full of sticky, crisp, sweet smelling mint husks and twisty oregano twigs. I scooped away the fallen leaves and other dead muck that had fallen to the soil...and I found them. Little dots of green. Little dots of fresh, new life.

I know this is sappy, and it's an obvious metaphor, but I truly feel that I'm one of those little dots. Maybe several. It's been a long summer. It's been hot and sweaty and nerve-wracking and upsetting, but I've been able to cut away a good bit of filth and realize what is dead and needs to be gotten rid of. It's been just a few days, but with oxygen and water and unobstructed light those little plants have shot up and are as green and verdant as ever.

I hope I thrive as well.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte


  1. I feel the same way about my plants. I thought I had lost my lavender and yarrow. This really upset me as both were bought from local organic farmers. Somehow, a bit of green is showing again and it makes me SO happy.

  2. Amazing isn't it? I go through this too. One plant in particular I've brought back several times by doing just what you describe. I think of it too as part of the winter season. No one knows what is going on "under the surface". We draw inward without even knowing it. We grow without even knowing it. And in the spring we are ready to break the surface again... Pretty damn cool.

  3. One thing many people don't realize is the newer windows in buildings today don't let in the right wavelengths of light for plants to properly grow indoors, even if you are down south. ( I live in Connecticut.) It's best to get a plant light if you want your plants to really thrive over the winter. Many times that culling is necessary for the plant, and I usually do that anyway at the end of the season. My basil plants will usually get a good three to four feet high in my flower beds, and are then too big to bring inside, so I wind up harvesting, drying, and storing them for the future. Same with any rosemary plant I put out in my flower beds, and that really doesn't do the winter, it winds up dying if left out. It is amazing how much abuse most plants can put up with, and still survive!! Same as us!!


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