Nearly nine years ago, I moved to Corvallis, Oregon and, initially, a lot of my time was spent unpacking boxes. One day, in need of a break, I set out to take a walk and saw something that shocked me: someone had thrown away a rosemary plant. There it was, a good green herb in a big clay pot. It had been left in the wood enclosure that houses the recycling bins. The sight of this discarded rosemary was disturbing — plants are living beings, and this one had been condemned to die a slow death. I couldn’t let that happen. I decided I would somehow lift or drag the pot to my own ground floor apartment.
Accomplishing this was easier than I thought — whoever left the rosemary behind hadn’t been watering it, so I didn’t have to deal with the weight of wet soil. And the pot, a foot high and nearly fifteen inches wide at the top, turned out to be fake clay, so it was lighter than it looked. Feeling like an Amazon, I lifted the herb in its pot and walked with it a short distance to my front yard. I placed it there outside, at the corner of the big living room window, where it had its own nook under the eave.
In its new home, the rosemary thrived. The branches grew more numerous, thicker, and greener; they spread up and out. After a time, I discovered that it had sent its roots down through the bottom center drain in the pot. It had anchored itself, and laid claim to that bit of earth.
When I found this rosemary, it was about a foot high and seemed to be struggling. Turns out, like most of us, all it needed was a place in the sun and some TLC. Several of its branches are now over four feet high. It is green all year round and its needle-like leaves have that wonderful rosemary scent. When winter has passed, it produces clusters of lavender-blue flowers. From an armchair in the living room I can look out and admire the grace of its foliage, the gentle stir of its branches in the breeze and, in the spring, the beautiful color of its flowers.
Though it is still officially winter, these past weeks here have been unseasonably warm. Many of the apple, cherry, and plum trees in gardens and along the streets are already blooming. The rosemary is having a banner year; its branches are thick with tiny blossoms. And with those blossoms come the bees. They’re here every day, going from one lavender-blue flower to another, joined at times by white butterflies. Word must have gone out: rosemary banquet in the neighborhood, everybody welcome.
Bees are in jeopardy. I’ve written emails. signed petitions, and contributed money to help save them. The bees are an integral, irreplaceable part of the cycle that produces all the good stuff we eat. If there are no bees, there are no grains, no fruit, nuts, or vegetables. Without them, we have a Big Problem.
These days, I have the distinct pleasure of feeling that I’m part of the solution: I love standing outside by the front door, watching the bees as they collect pollen and sip nectar. It’s good to see the robust health of the rosemary, good to see it provide food for the bees, who will in turn spread pollen around to grow more plants. As I reflect on finding this particular plant, I see that my rescue of the rosemary has helped contribute to the life-cycle, and I’m glad. It’s a small stone thrown into a big pond, but the positive ripple effect is much wider than I ever thought it would be.