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.
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.
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.