Wandering Jew

There is a Wandering Jew in my laundry room between the coffee machine and a lamp. It came from cuttings I took from the Sugar Shack in early autumn.

Each morning, I turn on the lamp and talk to the plant. "Good morning, my friend. Where are you wandering today?"

At first, there was only one pale purple and green tendril trailing out of the pot from the longest cutting. The others were short, with upright stems that looked as if they were settling in to the new space, sending down tiny rootlets to gain purchase in the strange, store-bought soil.

Each morning, I note how those short sprouts have grown tall in less than three months. They are spindly, almost tubular. Velvety hairs all along the stems shine ethereally through the lamp light.

The determined, anemic-looking stems will not develop their natural large-leaved, dark purple hardiness until they are reunited with the warm ground of summer, and liberated from the cramped winter quarters of a painted pot.

There were Wandering Jews in my mother's yard. That's where my attraction for them first bloomed. I knew, with a child's secret knowledge, that a wandering plant that wouldn't stay in its place, that snaked its way all over the garden, unburdened by borders or walls, and yet was tolerated by a nip-it-in-the-bud sort of woman who pulled up the innocuous, pretty, unauthorized Four O'Clocks planted almost daily by her youngest daughter who carried them around in her anarchist's small pockets, — a plant like this must be a magical plant, indeed.

I think of my inflexible, ultimately broken late mother every morning and watch my Wandering Jew as it sways first to the light, and then bends, curls and grows a little closer to the door and freedom, every day.

7 thoughts on “Wandering Jew

  1. The only thing that grew in my father’s brick planter by the front door… For that matter, the only non-grass plant in my father’s yard was also purple.
    Now that I think back on my father’s family… All of their yards showed a remarkable lack of landscaping… style… knowledge… inclination…
    But as I think back, Wandering Jew was a commonality with each and every yard. Sadly, when it comes to that purple species…I seem to have inherited a brown thumb.


  2. Your attentive words honor that vine. They made me think of a question that has bothered me for years…
    Why are my fellow humans so interested on whether life exists on faraway planets, when they take for granted and mostly look past the myriad life-forms here on Earth, many of which are still unknown to us?


  3. So glad you decided to stay public. It is difficult. I’ve been off the radar myself. Too consumed by my own thoughts, though you’ve been on my mind as well. There must be a happy medium. I know there is: it’s all about balance. 🙂


    1. Ah, Beth, so good to see you peeking in from Pinemeadow Pond. I’m working to repopulate my blog rolls and other links and to import miscellaneous stuff from a whole slew of scattered-out blog experiments so they’ll all be in one spot. Until I started looking across Typepad, WordPress and Blogger, I didn’t realize how my own personal Blogtown was suffering from word sprawl. I know you (and lots of other folks) understand and experience the near-schizophrenia of wanting to yank the plug on public blogging. Then you sit there in the dark for a few hours and are ready to build a new skyscraper with your bare hands. I’ve described blog archives before as a great big steaming compost pile. The conversation and interaction that takes place because of commenting on each other’s blogs is like the sun’s warmth to my word compost. It keeps the soil friable and sweet. And even if a rat runs through the pile every now and then, that’s not a good enough reason to burn the house down.


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