The biggest problem with house plants is that they grow. Well duh, you say. Of course they grow, they are plants.  You feed and water them and they grow.  But ah-ha, I say. Yes they grow, into larger, leafier, bigger than you anticipated plants. Green obstacles that were cute in the store or at a florist or as a starter from a friend or from some other strange place.  Plants, my friends, are not my friends.  Here’s my example.

On a vacation to Death Valley—that line in itself is pretty outlandish.  Who in their right mind goes to a place called Death anything to vacation.  Is there something wrong with me or does that sound out of kilter to you too? Vacation in Death Valley? Brings up images of a guy in torn and tattered clothing dragging himself across sand dunes. Eyes sunken, tongue hanging out, hair all spikey and full of sand. His face unshaven, his skin dried, crinkled and leathery like an old belt that has been tightened too many times around the robust middle of a big man. Yes that vacation spot! Dragging on…

On a vacation to Death Valley one year I picked up a few wayward dates off the ground in what, to those who know about Death Valley, is the well-known Death Valley date palm grove at the Death Valley Ranch.  Seems throughout the years there have been owners of the ranch who cultivated dates and sold all matter of those dates to the wayward vacationers, i.e., me. You can still buy date bread and date jam and dates stuffed with nuts or covered with sugar and of course just plain dates, but they are not the Death Valley dates. The grove is now just for scenery, the dates are just a nuisance. Now the dates and all the date stuff sold in the little ranch store owned by the ranch for wayward travelers to buy those all-inclusive souvenirs, come from some other date grove in what I assume is some other wonderfully named vacation spot. Anyway, I picked up four sticky dates off the ground and we brought them home.

My husband, aka the green thumb of the family, was going to try to sprout the dates and maybe we would have a pam tree in our house. Laughingly we wrapped the four dates in a wet paper towel and brought them home with us. Ha. Ha. Ha. Likely story.  But when we got home I unwrapped the little brown nubs and when I did they smelled wonderful.  Like they were fermenting into some wonderful brandy. Well why didn’t those date growers make something like an after dinner date cordial instead of the dry sticky date nut bread that of course I bought? Oops, slipped off the stool of the story.

The dates did put out a fragrant smell but low and behold they also sprouted! So Mr. Green Thumb plants them in a little pot and we waited. About a week later little grass looking plants poked up. All four of them.  What are the chances right? So we, well he, cultivated his four little trees and they grew. And grew.

Soon a bigger pot was called for.  Kind of like a surgeon calling out during in a very long surgery.  “Hand me the seedling nurse. Pot. Potting soil… Larger pot! Hurry. More potting soil, quick before I lose them!”  Okay that is a bit too much, I know.  But they did grow, and grow.  Until they were about three feet tall and all had about four long pretty green grass like appendages.  Then one died, then another and then a third.  Then there was one. And it is still alive, some ten years later and still growing.  It is now in the bathroom, where it gets moist air every day.  It is about six feet tall.  Hard really to tell exactly its height as the “leaves” grow straight and tall then when they get to a certain height they get to heavy. Then it is like a wind blows them around and they falter and begin to spread out and down. Just like their 60 to 80 foot tall grandfathers in the date nut grove in Death Valley, the leaves or what will one day be palm fronds, turn brown and make room for the next layer of growth. I hope this thing doesn’t think it is going to get 60 to 80 feet tall!

I enjoy watching it. Until it gets these little pesky flies in the winter when all the windows are closed tightly against the cold and snow.  Then I spray what is now a tree growing in the bathroom, so the little flies from the date tree don’t somehow end up in my soup. I think there is a joke somewhere about a guy saying to a waiter, “There is a fly in my soup…” It’s probably some off the wall date nut soup.


Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with here at