Sunday, November 23

November 24: Nature's Bounty

     Since I didn't work in my journal today, I thought I'd share a little story. It is unfolding quietly, in the back ground of life here. I've been inspired and humored by the little phenom, and it brings me pause... again and again.

     Last fall, sometime most likely in mid-October, I was sitting in my favorite big blue chair, munching a salad loaded with fresh organic produce, including crunchy carrots, tomatoes, sweet golden peppers, and creamy avocado. I often sat in this chair, eating. My back would hurt too much to sit in straight backed chairs, or on hard surfaces, so I can't be sure exactly when the seed was planted.

     On November 8th I had a lumbar fusion performed, and spent the better part of the next couple of months upstairs, but by the end of December I would wander through the downstairs and the living room once a day, to feed the fish and periodically check on which plants might need watering. I have a lot of plants, and a bit of a passion for cacti. Both my thumbs are green! I have so many plants, that when we have moved across country, which we've done a couple of times, a U-Haul truck was needed just for them and a few of my larger sculptures. One of our moves was from Chapel Hill, North Carolina to Yuma, Arizona. Taking my many plants into Arizona required a visit from the Department of Agriculture to inspect them and make sure they were all disease free (they were!). They also had to be counted, but getting an exact count, with them spread all over the house, was difficult. The inspector approximated 105.

     One afternoon, on my wander, I noticed a little green sprout in between the scraggly arms of this cactus. I figured it was a weed, but it had a familiar appearance, and the little leaves were a pretty shade of green, and my curiosity left the little sprout alone. Time went by, and the familiarity became a sureness, with a sprinkling of disbelief, and a whole lot of wonder. The plant that grew was looking like a pepper plant - assumedly from the salad I ate sitting in my blue chair next to a cactus.

     Skipping ahead, to February, this volunteer pepper plant had grown a great deal - strong, healthy and gorgeous green against the wintery February sky. Then it began to flower. All lingering doubts about what it was disappeared, and I fell in love with this little plant! It had already taken on more meaning to me than the fact that I was happy to have proof that I was actually eating vital food. I saw it as a symbolic partner of hope, growing along side my healing.

     I'm not sure just how many rounds of flowers bloomed and fell without any pepper forming, but there were at least 4, before finally - a pepper did form... and grow. It got to about the size and shape of a lopsided golf ball before it stopped growing, but began changing color. From it's deep green it lightened and yellowed into a golden glow, with a tinge of orange where it faced the sunny window. I forgot to take a picture of it before I munched it down in three bites one day! Still warm from the sunny window, it was a sweet, crunchy, tender treat! And I saved it's seeds.

     By July it had completely over crowded it's host and I decided I'd better find it a pot of it's own, or perhaps it was time to simply remove it and send it on to compost. After all, it had been dropping yellowing leaves, those that were still green were nearly transparent, and it couldn't stand on it's own but was propped up by the supporting branches of the cactus. I couldn't do it though - there was still life there, so I planned to repot and see what happened. I procrastinated for a couple more weeks, but finally got a pot, soil, and fork (to separate the tangled roots of the pepper and it's host) and headed to the living room. Moments later, I'm smiling to myself as I discover three new flower buds have appeared, as if in response to it's "near death experience"!

     So, it now has a home of it's own and is thriving -

flowering like crazy, and forming new peppers with a gusto.
     With the extra space, I figured it was time to expand, so I also sprinkled in a few of the seeds from the pepper I had eaten. There are now three baby plants that have sprouted and grown, a couple of inches each, surrounding the main momma plant!

     I offer my little yellow bell pepper's story to you as a symbol of the power of life force that runs through so many things that get overlooked, thrown away, ignored and under valued. This one little plant offers me joy, reminds me to take pause each day to appreciate all I have. It provides me with the opportunity to nurture life, to see beauty, to remember nature, and to laugh. If this one little plant provides me with this much richness, I wonder just how many other sparks of life, moments, and blessings I'm given the opportunity to appreciate each and every day, that I allow to go by unnoticed? What's your pepper plant?! What makes you take pause, to see more meaning than appears on the surface, to take you into a space of deep appreciation for what life is?  Thanksgiving seems a good time to renew a commitment to being more aware of all the minute beauties and miracles in each day.

     I'll keep you posted on the progress of my pepper plant family! It has thrived for over a year now - just what is the life span of a pepper plant?!


  1. I have so many "pepper plants" ! When I started to think about them, it was like they were all little lights calling out "Pick me ! Pick me !". I am grateful for them all as I get the reminders to focus on the micro, especially when the bigger picture gets too overwhleming or foggy. Kim's pepper plants ? - My dog who knows the value of a good sigh as well as a good walk. My cat who knows the value of a good stretch as well as a good nap. My african violet that grew from one leaf that broke off one morning and after a year under my sun lamp, has flowers of it's own. My niece who is six months old and has just learned how fun it is to yell, I mean really yell, when the cat walks by ! My self, beautiful and miraculous, who finds a way to see and appreciate the miracles around me everyday in spite of pain or in spite of all the "bad" things that are...

    For all these "seeds" of life and more, I am truly thankful.

    Peace and thanks to you today, too, Karin.

  2. Thank you Karin for the lovely pepper story-so much meaning from a pepper plant. And that's how life is as you have so graciously noted.

    I'm thankful for ALL that God has blessed me with and I try to notice each day the natural beauty that surrounds me. One thought in particular-All the little birds that come to the feeder just outside my window at work. They know just where to come in this fairly big city (Richmond, VA) to have a little seed, to relax and know that they will be nourished.

    Thanks be to God, the Creator, the Maker His gracious LOVE that he gives us ALL freely! Let it pour, let it pour!


  3. Karin, what a lovely story. I am that way about my plants too. I divide and root and can't seem to throw away any cutting. I give them to everyone. But the little pepper that could..well that's just sweet. And look at all the happiness you've received from one little seed. I see so many people each spring who rush to the garden centers to buy full grown flowering annuals and perenials and I think to myself, "No! You're missing out on all the fun of watching something grow from nothing to something!" That's my favorite part of gardening; going out every morning to see what came up overnight.

    I do try to observe and appreciate the world around me every day. I'm always in awe of the sky and make a point to notice the change of seasons. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  4. What a delightful story, Karin! Healing backs and pepper plants...

    What came to mind was my 85-year-old Mother, who at 83, broke her neck – C1 and C2. The only possible solution, I was told, would be to insert a metal rod from C1 to C7, a procedure that would take 10 hours under anesthesia she could not endure. The neurosurgeon said there was no hope. You don't think her body could heal itself? I asked. No way, he said, you're living in a fantasy world. I fired him and found a rehab facility that works with spinal injury patients.

    Today, my Mother is a walking miracle. Although she has lost a great deal of her fine motor skills and can no longer live independently, she is vibrantly alive.

    They were given pots to plant this summer at her assisted living facility. Everyone wanted to plant flowers. Not my Mother. She wanted to grow pepper plants. Her plants that she so lovingly cared for, yielded more than 30 red, yellow, orange and purple peppers. She was so proud. She asked me to make Hungarian stuffed peppers and she shared them with the other residents. Such joy!

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karin. Many Blessings to you.

  5. Thank you all for sharing your stories! Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
    EarthMother - I wonder if there is a magical connection to peppers and backs?! How completely wild that both your mother and I found solace and healing through the nurturing specifically with peppers!! SO very glad she was able to avoid surgery and is living well.

  6. Hey K
    This is a magic story told magically. A teaching story to be told and retold. I love the joy in the words... the joyfulness comes through so clearly.
    Happy Day of Giving Thanks.

  7. I agree...a magic story. Thanks for telling it Karin.


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