Monday, December 19, 2005

Mr. Brownthumb

Remember Aron Ralston? He was the guy who went hiking in Blue John Canyon, Utah and got his arm wedged between the canyon wall and an 800 pound boulder. He stood there lonely, stationary, hungry, and dehydrated—hopelessly stuck in the canyon with no rational expectation for rescue. On the fifth day of his wretched plight, Death was knocking his boney hand on Aron’s door. But at that moment he had a revelation. Aron took out his pocket knife, the blade of which had been worn down small and dull from both chipping at the boulder and etching his own epitaph into the canyon wall. He then maneuvered his body to leverage the breaking of his elbow joint and then used the blade to cut through the flesh. Once the agonizing self-amputation was complete he finished a harrowing descent out of the canyon, repelling 65 feet, and hiking seven miles to a trailhead before rescuers found him.

I couldn’t help but think of this story today as I looked at the little plant that I keep here in my office. I haven’t been very good at routine watering, and now and then, when the thought crosses my mind, I glance over only to see the poor thing droopy, yellowy, and suffering some famine I’d unknowingly imposed. As I was out on vacation a week ago I forgot again to water my plant. Upon my return it was in poor shape. My plant had entered the Blue John Canyon of its short life. Of its four major stems, one had gone completely brown and withered. Severed leaves lay crispy, dry and wilted at the base. The other major stems weren’t looking particularly good either, but still showed signs of life.

I took some drastic measures. Opening my desk drawer I pulled out some scissors and amputated the brown stem at the base. I then soaked the soil in water and positioned the plant so as to get the maximum amount of sunlight possible. Here we are a few days later and it looks healthier than the day Christy bought it—with a noticeable stump cut sheer at the base. I’m sort of proud.

I think I’ll name it Aron.

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