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Fruitless Pursuits pt. 1

For my first trick, I pursued a hobby in obsessions. Harmless ones, of course, but one that stimulates activity, focus, and self-improvement — through the gaze of social media.

Since my friends were already documenting their pandemic exploits by means of gardening or cooking, I figured I had something to build on. Cooking was out of the picture because I’m plant-based and gluten-free (not by choice because I have celiac disease and a liver problem). Gaming was not a good idea because I rage. Plants? That caught my interest. I sought to test it out by interacting with controlled plant-life in Golden Gate Park’s Botanical Garden.

Although, the idea of building my own garden was marvelous. I wasn’t as invested as I thought I’d be. For lack of a better excuse — I have issues with commitment.

My first attempt was to go to a cactus nursery in Berkeley and build tiny, alien worlds with cacti and succulents. Succulents were a hearty species and I had spent my childhood obsessing about desert plants. It was after possessing a copy of The Complete Book of Cacti & Succulents by Terry Hewitt — the only fancy, colored book I could afford at the time.


Thanks to this book, I managed to convince my 5th grade science teacher to change our class’ plants from oregano to cacti. Every body seemed to be growing oregano or some kind of chia pet plant at the time and they all ended up diseased at the end of the year.

Back then my school held these contests that played on brevity. The departments tried to see if some of us actually developed the art of commitment by letting us take care of plants.

Those whose plants survived received recognition at the end of the year. What better plant to make it was the cactus. So, I managed to make my class agree to it.

Did my class win that year? I have no idea. All I knew was that because of that, I learned how to take care of cacti – which didn’t require a lot of caring in the first place – and breed them. The end!

This isn’t a story about how I picked it up again. This is a story about how it lead to me obsessing over cataloging mint plants. And it started with writers block and the Cactus Jungle in Berkeley, CA.

Some of you might ask: how long does it take for you to heal? And my answer to that question is: as long as it takes.

It took one sunny, April day for me to decide that I wanted to pursue this project of documenting and creating tiny worlds. Why? It’s science fiction and fantasy. The ones with the painted retro covers which, I think, would be best described as a Moebius and JJ Abrams cocktail.

Either way, I got the succulents. They were in very good condition. I built the tiny world to the best of my abilities and ended up with something pedestrian.

No visions of a Skinwalker’s breeding ranch on this terrarium. In fairness, I was limited and I was concerned that in a few months, I had to replant these so they can grow to their full potential. Plus, I had no idea what I wanted yet.

Until I saw a peppermint plant…

Here’s where the Botanical Garden comes into play. A month ago, one Saturday and $24 later, we were strolling through that garden. We noticed a bed of mint. Different mint species. Lots of them. Most of them randomly scattered throughout that herb garden which literally captured my interest.

I told my husband, “I think I like mint.” Although, I didn’t know why since I usually ignore the herbs at the supermarket. But in that plant bed, they looked thriving and feral.

In a previous mental account, I remembered Persephone’s dealings with a nymph called Menthe. In which the goddess, out of anger, turned her husband’s ex-lover into a fragile little plant called, mint. In some accounts it was Demeter who’d done the deed.

“Your blood, Adonis, will become a flower
perennial. Was it not allowed to you
Persephone, to transform Menthe’s limbs
into sweet fragrant mint? And can this change
of my loved hero be denied to me?”

Metamorphoses by Ovid

Either way, mint spreads. I learned that after reading an article, “Do not put your mint next to each other”. Basically, planting my 6 species of mint together was not a good idea. Planting 10 species of mint together? Probably not a good idea too.

I came up with a solution after visiting various nurseries in Sacramento, Davis, and Vacaville to complete my collection. I went to Walmart to get cheap pots. Then I did the transferring. The result was satisfying.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with these pretty ladies yet even if it is satisfying to just see them grow.

Why am I not writing, again? I have no idea. Maybe the will come someday? Maybe it won’t? But I did the thing I wanted to do and I succeeded starting something instead of just thinking about it.

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