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Notes from a Crusty Seeker

Itty Bitty Matters


There are three pertinent pieces of background to this story:
(1) I am allergic to tomato plants;

(2) It takes approximately 500 years for a plastic bag to decompose in a landfill;

(3) Anything that demonstrates a determination to stay alive is an object of my admiration.

“Make sure not to let the plant touch your clothes,” warned Nurse Mia, my neighbor who has joint custody of our tomato plants because they live on her terrace. Nurse Mia is brilliant. Not only is she a budding nurse anesthesiologist who will keep people alive during the careful administration of Propofol, but she diagnosed my tomato plant allergy by using the Socratic method on my endless bitching (see June 18 blog).

Two of our four tomato plants had expired due to too-small pots or the new tomato fungus blight, or a combination of the two. However, one of the ostensibly dead plants looked a little bit juicy to me, so I decided to prune it to see if it would come back.

A Short Discourse on Plastic Shopping Bags
Because I am an environmentally conscientious person, I have stopped taking plastic shopping bags for my groceries, so I don’t have many left and I do my best to reuse my stash. There is a problem with this. One needs to transport one’s refuse from one’s fifth-floor walk-up apartment to the pails in front of one’s building. To do this requires a bag, unless one is insane.

I am not insane. I used to deposit a whole plastic bag avec refuse into the big plastic bag in my building’s pails, resulting in the addition of 500 years of landfill crap. However, now that I am a conscientious P.C. individual, I deposit the contents of said bag, then reuse it (the bag, not the contents).

Back to the Tomatoes
Being a conscientious P.C. person with allergies who has a brilliant nurse for a neighbor, I wore my industrial-strength, non-decomposable, yellow rubber gloves to prune yesterday, then I packed the dead stuff in a bag which I left in my hall until I was ready to travel downstairs to the garbage pails … which I did much later in the day … sans gloves.

It took two cups of coffee and freezing-eye-mask therapy before I could open my swollen eyes this morning and reconstruct the events of yesterday. Ah, those itty bitty lapses.

In her new book, Our Stories, Our Visions: Inspiring Stories from Remarkable Women, author Zoë Sallis recounts a tale told by Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize:

There is a huge forest fire, and all the forest animals flee in terror — except for the hummingbird. Back and forth, back and forth the little bird flies, transferring drops of water to put out the raging fire. The other animals think this is pretty ridiculous, but the more they mock her, the harder the hummingbird works. “What are you doing?” ask the animals. “The fire is overwhelming, how can you make a difference? You are too little anyway.” How does the hummingbird respond? “I’m doing the best I can,” says she.

My conclusion? Itty bitty stuff matters — be it the touch of a toxin to an allergic skin, an effort to recycle one bag, one juicy branch of a dying plant determined to live, or the intention of a tiny bird.
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