Drinking in the last rays of afternoon sunlight, my mother’s spider plant looks out of the dining room’s bay window at the frozen garden. Dozens of baby spider plants hang beneath the mother spider plant, and reach for the ground with their tiny roots. Their little white roots twist around each other beneath their long leaves that splay out over their roots like children who refuse to comb their hair after waking up in the morning. Each baby is connected to the mother spider plant by a green umbilical cord.
I remember when this mother spider plant was a baby itself that had only recently been disconnected from its mother. I first saw this spider plant I was six years old and in my first grade classroom. My teacher held a black garbage bag and told my class that we would be potting spider plants for our mothers. It was early May, and Mother’s Day was only a week away. My teacher wanted each student to honor his or her mother and the spring by selecting a plant and potting it. She handed out small plastic pots and told us to fill the pot with dirt, dig a small hole, and place the plant, roots first, into the dirt.
I hardly remember my first grade year in Thomaston, but I do remember patting the dirt around my little spider plant. My life had changed drastically that year, but the act of playing in the dirt was one I understood. That year had included moving into a new house, starting a new school, making new friends, and meeting a new baby brother. With all these changes, each day was different including trying to fit in to the social expectations of my new classroom.
However, potting a plant was not a new activity. It was a respite from the new experiences that came with living in town. Living in Thomaston was very different from living in Blue Hill. My home in Blue Hill was away from civilization, and was located in a swampy forest. My sister and I loved spending our time outside telling stories and playing in the dirt and around the trees. I remember making tree bark sandwiches and picking vegetables in our little garden. I imagine these memories caused the moment I potted my mother’s plant to stand out in plethora of activities I completed in my first grade classroom.
When class ended and I watered my little plant, I watched it grow in the classroom until it was time to take it home to my mother. After delivering the plant to my mom, she thanked me for it, and we set it in the sun to watch it mature into an adult. Quickly the plant grew, and I remember how surprised I was when the little plant I had brought home was producing babies of its own.