“Hey there, you with the stars in your eyes …”
Since my earliest days as a botanist, I’ve felt a profound connection between earthly plants and the heavens.
While in college, I held the position of caretaker for the University’s small greenhouse. Within its glass walls, I kept busy mixing soils, re-potting outsized plants and maintaining its prized permanent collection of tropicals.
But amidst the peat moss and Pepperomia, I dreamed of the stars.
Late nights, under the spell of overly oxygenated air—the by-product of plant transpiration—I’d drift off into Space, imagining a life where I could exercise both of these strong passions as one occupation.
One night it came to me…I’d become an astro-botanist!
I was sure that, should such a field actually exist, NASA would be keeping it a secret and surreptitiously seek me out for the job.
I imagined being the true life Lowell, as played by Bruce Dern, in the classic movie Silent Running. At the helm of a space-traveling farm, working with a cadre of droids, I would maintain and harvest the crops that would sustain me through a lifelong journey, propelled by the power of the solar winds. It seemed the perfect career move for the self-sufficient direction I wanted my life to take.
Deep in my heart I knew it was merely schoolboy’s folly, but I did get close once.
It was a time when my best friend ran the school’s observatory, located in the same building as the greenhouse. On clear nights, I would lock the plants in their beds and climb the stairs that opened to the heavens, anxious to see in which direction he would aim the telescope for that evening’s adventure.
We saw the Orion Nebula, red dwarf and blue giant stars, planetary moons and the distant spirals of neighboring galaxies.
These days, light years after having nearly touched the sky, I’m satisfied to casually observe the rise of a planet as it enters the night’s sky, joining a star-studded cast for a revolution-ary performance.
Less adventurous than my erstwhile dream, the ability to recognize a few commonly known star clusters like Cassiopeia, Sirius and Pleiades serves as a reasonable
Jon Feldman is the owner of G. biloba Garden Environments. Reach him at www.gbiloba.com or at 353-3448.