The Things You Don't See Until You Know They're There

published on Apr 04, 2019

CATEGORIZED AS: Garden | Spirituality

It's amazing what you don't see until you know it's there.

For instance: Plant consciousness.

A few nights ago, I was in a conversation out in public, with people I know but who don't know me well enough to have plumbed the depths of my crazy (and I say "crazy" ironically here, because I believe myself to be saner than I've ever been, and saner than is quite normal for our society).

One of them called attention to the fact that I and another person were using the words "people" and "humans" as if interchangeable, and pointed out to us that in fact the words are not fully interchangeable.

I agreed wholeheartedly, and amended my previous statements to use the word "human" rather than "person," adding:

"Of course that's a valid and important distinction. After all, my cats are not human but they are people."

The others laughed. As though I were joking.

I added: "And the trees. Trees are people."

The laughter became slightly uncomfortable.

"Have you talked to your therapist about this?" said one of them to me.

I said, "As a matter of fact, yes."

"And?" said he.

"And my therapist talks to her cats and the trees too, so..."

And that is where we left it.

It got me thinking about how just ten or so years ago, I'd have been the one saying, "Have you talked to your therapist about this?"

How a little over a year ago I WAS the one saying, "Now I know this might be crazy, but I think I might be hearing trees talk?"

How the last time I gardened with any seriousness, I thought it was a little silly to talk to my plants. I did it anyway, nota bene. But never quite entirely with confidence.

Now, however, I do it deliberately and with all seriousness. I encourage my seedlings. I tell them how beautiful they are. How proud of them I am when they find the next level of the trellis and keep growing. How much I appreciate them coming into my life. We share our mutual enjoyment of the sun. When I covered my peas last night for the overnight drop in temps, I tucked them in gently and told them to have a good night and that I hoped they would be comfortable.

Think I'm crazy all you want, but now that I have begun listening to the plants and treating them with respect as fellow sentient beings?

They show me things.

And I don't ONLY mean in some woo-woo astral plane sense (though they do that TOO, but maybe you're not ready for that level of crazy/sane?).

I mean literally with my physical eyes.

Like this morning, I took my tomato plants outside to enjoy the sunshine. It was chillier than usual, but I thought they'd be okay. A couple hours later, I went out to check on them and I swear to GOD they were leaning away from the brisk, cold breeze.

Not just like the breeze was blowing them, but they had bent themselves sideways, with one little leaf tucked up and over like a scarf protecting the rest of the plant from the cold wind.

Honestly? They looked cold and miserable, exactly like I would look if I had been sitting out in that breeze for two hours without a coat.

I brought them back inside.

They're happier now.

 What they look like on a pretty day. I didn't have the heart to make them wait for a photo once I realized they were miserable.

I am certain I have seen tomato plants do this before. I've been a gardener for years. But I've never SEEN them do it before.

Another thing? Today one of my pea plants leaned itself sideways and grabbed ahold of the twine I tied there for the purpose. When I looked at it this morning, it was leaning away from the support. When I looked at it this afternoon, it was leaning toward it, and its little tendrils had wrapped all the way around it. It saw where it needed to go, and it went there.

Stretch.
Grasp.

Again. I'm certain I've seen this behavior. But I've never SEEN it before.

Now, some of you will be in awe. Some of you will be nodding your heads. Some of you will be skeptically raising an eyebrow. That's fine. If you need "science" to show you the receipts, it's out there and you're welcome to Google it. Plants have memory. Plants make choices. Plants communicate with each other. Plants show every sign of having meaningful relationships and experiencing pain, fear, and other emotions. These are all shown in the data.

But until you KNOW it, you won't SEE it.

TAGS: plant sentience
fen pic

Fen Druadìn


Fen Druadìn (they/them) is anamchara, storyteller, dragon, student of trees, and a breaker of generational curses.

Fen's mission here is to love and remember themself completely, connect deeply with the world, and help others do the same for themselves.

Fen connects deeply with the universe through their relationship with a sacred land in the Appalachians of North Carolina, and shares messages here and elsewhere. When not in the woods, they can be found on Facebook and Patreon.


If you feel led and are able, you can support Fen's work in any of these ways:

  • Monthly financial support via Patreon
  • Make a one-time donation via CashApp ($FenDruadin) or Venmo (username FenDruadin).
  • Make a one-time donation via Paypal (please choose "friends and family" to avoid fees)
  • Share their Facebook content with your networks, and/or like and comment
  • Follow this blog

You can also contribute to the work of reconnecting with yourself and the world in any or all of these ways:

  • Stand in front of a mirror, look in your eyes, and say, "I love you." Repeat daily for as long as it takes
  • Send your love to the trees and stones and water and Earth
  • Spend time in quiet meditation with a plant or stone person, and listen for messages
  • Clean up litter in your neighborhood and/or engage in other acts of environmental restoration
  • Build a personal relationship with the plants and animals in your area by spending time with them and listening for their messages and responding to their needs
  • Reconnect with your own strength and power and truth via meditative practice such as yoga, guided meditation, chanting, drumming, dance, or any other tool that feels right and helps you ground and connect
  • Engage in this community and/or other communities committed to re-establishing our right relationship with ourselves and the earth

Wherever you are, on your journey and in your life, may you be well, may you be at peace, and may you always find the next good step.


More about Fen

More Essays

Regular insights on creativity and the creative process.