I spent the better part of my Sunday on the floor of my garage with blackened hands and a paring knife.
Technically speaking, any invasive action to a plant’s root system should take place during a period of inactive growth. For aloes, this is apparently late winter or early spring, but my mother plant had been a busy woman, and she sat, full to bursting in her green and cracking pot, with ten healthy pups ready to branch out on their own.
It was time.
And because I live in a second floor apartment, I have no hose or backyard space to do the easy work of washing down roots for separation…thus the garage floor and the blackened hands.
I must admit I was very content in the silence of the small concrete box that comprises my garage. Clawing my hands through the rich soil, shooing the spiders and other miscellaneous arthropods to the dark corners behind the plastic tubs of Christmas ornaments and camping supplies.
It’s a delicate job, pulling away the dirt, separating the tangled root mass into neat plaits, and finally, with a sharp, sharp knife, cutting the new life away from the old, wrapping it gingerly in old newspapers (as my grandmother taught me to do with her iris bulbs) and waiting for the oozing cut to callous and be ready for a pot of its own.
I love this about succulents. That when one is happy, well nourished, it will multiply itself, generating clones to share in its satisfaction with the world. I love that I can buy a little plant in a brown plastic pot from Home Depot for $4.99 when I’m feeling down in the dumps, and in two years send the happy offshoots I have nourished into the homes of friends and loved ones. I like the feeling that we are all sharing in the same joy. That we are connected by the happiness of this thing that loved its life so much it became more.
I try to use it as a reminder that, though it may take exceptional time, I can make joy out of sorrow. That life can flourish in my careful attention. That, in my quiet way, even with blackened hands, I can be a propagator of simple joys.
This amigurumi cactus was made using my own pattern and small amounts of Caron Simply Soft yarn.