My parents taught me to love nature.
The house I grew up in was across the street from a park. We had a big picture window that looked out onto the park. It was nice seeing the sunset out of that window. We were close to the Botanical Garden and the zoo, so we spent a lot of time gazing at plants and animals. My parents had some property upstate. They called it the farm, but it was really wild land across from farms. We would go there to pick blueberries, my father blazing a trail with his machete (that’s how a Puerto Rican does it.)
My father is the green thumb. That picture window was always full of tropical plants. In fact, I would say the number of plants in that window has increased since I left home. I think they help him feel a little closer to Puerto Rico. He can make anything grow. Many avocadoes and other fruit were grown from seed by him. My sister has that green thumb as well. Her room was full of African violets. I stick with easy plants. The kind I can ignore for a week and they won’t hold it against me.
My mom learned to love nature from her family. Her dad was in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC’s) and had lots of pictures from places like Grand Teton National Park. I remember seeing a picture where he attended mass at an outdoor chapel and thinking, “Yes, that makes sense.” I always feel closer to God when I am enjoying the natural world. Mom showed us home movies from my grandfather’s collection. There were some movies where he (or my mother?) would film the clouds as they drove along on road trips. He wanted to film the clouds because of the impermanence of them. Little did he know how equally impermanent the landscape would be!
I can’t imagine life without plants. My parents gave me a strong appreciation of God’s creation. My greatest pleasure since moving into our home has been to garden and to fill my own picture window with house plants. And since I know the kind of gardener I am (plant and ignore) I have learned a lot about native species and low care houseplants. My own children will also grow up surrounded by nature. That’s nice. Each generation teaches the next. I want them to love nature as much as I do.