Friday, April 10, 2009

If Time Ran Backwards for Plants

It doesn't happen all that often, but sometimes at work I luck into doing some really long, boring thing, and my brain has to entertain itself. Usually, this doesn't result in anything very interesting (in fact, usually, it means I have a song running through my head for hours at a time -- or sometimes just a couple lines from a song, if I don't know the whole thing, which is horrible), but every once in a while, something bubbles up that's odd enough to share.

So last Monday, I was transplanting plugs of Impatiens (or "fucking Impatiens," as it's more commonly known among the staff1) and the plant-related synapses in my brain (which are many) happened to be firing at the same time as the ones that were remembering a snippet from Slaughterhouse Five, and I started to think, what would it be like if time ran backwards for plants but not people?

Fucking Impatiens 'Super Elfin Lipstick.'

Now obviously time runs the direction it runs, and so any thought experiment like this winds up running into inconsistencies eventually, but I choose to ignore that. Here's what I came up with:

  • Plants are these things that people erect with axes, or random pieces of debris on the ground that assemble themselves, stand upright, and then turn green. This is especially likely to happen after a freeze. Once erected, they slowly leak carbon dioxide and pollution and consume oxygen, in an attempt to suffocate all human life. (We think.) So people are always trying to get rid of plants, by setting aside special areas of property, called gardens and lawns, to shrink them (plants are highly attracted to something in the center of the earth) until they're small enough to fit in pots. They then bring the pots to garden centers, where we pay them to take their dangerous plants, which we deflate further in the greenhouse. When they're very, very small, we shove them into flats of very tiny plugs, seal them into boxes, and send them away, so they can't hurt us any more. Sometimes we stick the tiny plants into trays and they shrink down to little rocklike structures called seeds, which don't emit carbon dioxide and are relatively safe, but we still seal these seeds up in packages to prevent them getting out.

Osteospermum 'Bronze Charmer,' the color-changing variety I mentioned a few days ago. I think the new flower is on the left and the old flower is on the right, but I'm not positive about that. In any case, these flowers are both from the same plant, whatever the sequence of events actually is.

  • This is never a permanent solution, though, because plants are always spontaneously forming themselves from rotting gunk on the ground. Occasionally, too, and especially when there's a dirty plate in front of a person, the person will vomit up pieces of plant, and then reassemble them in his/r mouth, before putting them on the plate. This is called eating. Bugs vomit up enormous quantities of plants all the time. So we never get rid of all of them at once.
  • Fertilizer is the chemical residue left behind by deflating plants. Sometimes people are organic gardeners, and the deflating plants leave behind manure as a residue instead. Manure is apparently much more dangerous, because people never leave it just lying around: they always pack it into bags and send it away for other people to place in pastures and barns, so the manure can moisten itself and eventually jump up cows' asses.

Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie.'

  • Weeding is the process of sticking certain quick-deflating plants into the soil.
  • In some special circumstances, the debris on the ground will leap onto the plant and quickly become brightly-colored, which we call flowers. Flowers will remain on the plant until visited by a pollinator like a bird or bee, which rub pollen onto and vomit nectar into the flower, at which point the flower will close up and begin to shrink into the plant.
  • Plants are also always beaming heat and light up to the sun (and to a lesser extent, lamps and candles and stuff). They have uncanny aim. This is called photosynthesis and is something of a mystery, though we think it has something to do with all the carbon dioxide they're pumping out.
  • Sometimes garbagemen will leave bags of leaves at the curb for homeowners. The homeowners then scatter the leaves all over their lawn with a rake (raking), and a while later the leaves jump onto nearby trees and change colors, eventually turning green and shrinking. Exactly where the garbagemen are getting all these leaves in the first place is unclear, but the supply appears to be inexhaustible.
  • Watering is the process of deflating plants by sucking water out of them with a hose, or watering can.

Calibrachoa 'Superbells Saffron.'

  • Once in a while, enormous clouds of smoke and flame will converge upon a charred spot and form plants. These are called wildfires, and although they create new plants, which is unfortunate, fires can be quite beneficial. Among other things, they can heal burn victims, build new houses out of rubble, and bring animals back from the dead. Wildfires appear to be particularly creative if firefighters can "water" them.
  • For unknown reasons, people in parts of Central and South America, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and much of Africa are putting a lot of effort into destroying their natural plant-free areas and erecting enormous forests instead. This probably means that they are trying to destroy the planet, or hate the United States, or something like that. Whatever it is, it must be important, because they're actually taking their houses apart and stitching trees together to be planted in these areas.

If you think of anything I've left off the list, say something in comments.


1 It's not that it's so terrible. There's just so much of it.


our friend Ben said...

Geez, I wish my brain worked that hard when I was bored! Unfortunately, I usually find myself doing the endless-song thing, and worse, it's almost never a song I actually like. Thanks for the morning entertainment!

lancetx said...

Very amusing and entertaining, but makes me wonder - do Impatiens actually give off narcotics of some sort.

mr_subjunctive said...

I think if they did, we'd have nicer things to call them at work. At the very least people would be fighting over who got to transplant them.

Dee said...

And just what were you smoking before work that day?

Anonymous said...

Help! Zombies are attacking my house - they've already trampled my sunflowers and I don't know what to do. Anybody have advice on a good zombie-zapping plant?

sheila said...

At the garden center I used to work at, we specialized in f'ing liriope. How many 1 gallon liriopes (especially the boring plain green kind) does one garden center actually need? I swear we frequentlyhad 400 or so sitting there at one time. But I never found them to inspire anything clever or amusing.

LS said...

"so the manure can moisten itself and eventually jump up cows' asses."

Probably the most hilarious thing I've read in a while