I have become somewhat of a green thumb. (OK, I didnt actually grow anything. I just havent killed it, so maybe that qualifies me as a quasi-green thumb.)
There appears to be a small garden on the corner of my desk. My office has 12-foot high windows in a brick building in Mercer Village. I get a strong dose of morning rays and nice sunlight in the late afternoon.
This has created a greenhouse effect in Room 127. Several plants are taking over my work space. (I am beginning to wonder if I potted some kudzu by mistake.)
I brought a small plant stand from home and placed it by the window. I dont know if all this greenery is emitting any good writing vibes, but Ive got some major photosynthesis going on here.
The heartleaf philodendron and devils ivy (pothus) are starting to tumble over the edge of my desk. The lucky bamboo has shot up like a beanstalk, almost 35 inches tall. I fully expect a horticulturist to stop by and tell me its time to prune.
In the center of this desktop garden is the most special plant of all. It is an aloe, with thick, fleshy leaves and the superpowers to soothe everything from sunburn to heartburn.
There are more than 500 varieties of aloe, but Im pretty sure this is the only one of its kind in the world.
It is my Mama Clara plant.
Clara Eschmann began working at The Macon Telegraph in 1963. That was 50 years ago this year. She was Macons own Julia Child, serving as food editor until her retirement in 1987. She continued writing her food columns and sharing her chatty reminiscences for 15 more years until her death 11 years ago this week. She was 85.
Clara was one of this newspapers all-time unforgettable characters. Bless her heart, there were live wires inside that feisty woman.
At the same time, she was one of the most gracious Southern ladies I have ever known. She called everybody Dah-ling. Her recipe for lemon chess pie should be in the Smithsonian.
I especially miss Clara this time of year. The Cherry Blossom Festival and Friends of the Library Old Book Sale were two of her passions. I still think about her all the time. The Mama Clara plant is a daily reminder.
She gave it to me three months before she died. We were at a holiday bazaar at Christ Church, where she was a member. She left with her cane for a few minutes, then returned clutching a plant.
I remember wondering at the time: Why on Earth is she giving this to me?
When she passed away a week before the first day of spring, I realized what a gift I had received. It was something to remember her by.
I had no idea about the life expectancy of a tiny aloe plant. I figured they werent exactly redwoods of the succulent plant kingdom. But I did some research and learned some varieties can live more than a hundred years.
I was reminded of an old proverb.
The world is a better place when people plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or email@example.com.