Monday, April 26, 2010

EFM: Extricating Floral Memento

As a continuation to yesterday's less-than-serious ponderings of relocating (and massive consumption) of alcohol, I do have one lingering concern about what migration means for my possessions.

For the most part, we don't own much of value. Other than electronics, I think our most valuable possession in monetary terms is our bed set, so it isn't like we have a lot of hard decisions as we prepare for pack out day. Cheap furniture, books and a lot of winter clothes go into storage. Most everything else is coming with us because there isn't that much more. One of the benefits of never owning a home is that we got pretty good about limiting our possessions. Space, or lack there of, dictated that.

But we do have personal items that while limited or entirely lacking monetary value hold a great deal of sentimental value. How many family photos do we want to take to Mexico to make Hermosillo feel like home? All? Doubtful, because there always is the lingering risk that something happens to our shipments or our new home. Fortunately, many of our photos are backed up on the Internet and hard drives as they have been taken on digital cameras.

Some possessions do have some monetary value, but the sentimental or personal value greatly outweigh that. For example, Natalie has some of her mother's jewelry, and she would be just sick of anything happened to it. I have a basketball signed by the 1996 University of Kentucky championship basketball team that I didn't even want to bring to D.C. with me. I have no idea what the ball is worth (several of those players went on to the NBA probably increasing its value), but it remains one of my most prized possessions and I would never think of selling it.

All of those items, however, store pretty well. They're relatively small, and they don't need any care. The same can't be said for my brother's tree.

In 2004, my younger 22-year-old brother died. My parent's home turned into a greenhouse over the next couple of days as friends and family had potted plants sent there. A tradition I really don't understand.

I was living in southeast Ohio at the time, and to lighten the load (and save one more plant from being disposed...there is only so much room for plants in one household), I decided to take one small plant with me back home. It probably was no taller than six inches at the time.

The plant moved from Ohio to D.C. with me in 2005, still a smallish shrub, but it was growing to maybe a foot and a half. In D.C., with a little help from Miracle Gro, it shot up several feet. And when we left D.C. for northern Virginia in 2007, the plant barely made the move with us. As it only had to travel a few miles and we needed to rent a moving van for our furniture anyway, the plant was able to move with us.

Now towering at probably 10 feet (it is hard to gauge, and it already has hit the ceiling and is now growing horizontally), I know the plant can't come to Mexico with us. At least in its current state. My mom, who knows much more about plants than I do, thinks I can lop off the top portions to make it more mover friendly. Then new limbs will start to grow, she said.

Truth is, I'm not overly concerned about the tree being able to move to Mexico with us. I have other, more meaningful objects that remind me of my brother. But I don't want the thing to be merely discarded. I'll look into trimming it and seeing if that makes it movable, but otherwise, the only other solution I can think of is trying to find some place to plant it. (Though Mom thinks it will die in the winter if I do that.)

I've moved on that I don't need this plant sentimentally, but it would bring some piece of mind to know that the plant will live on.


  1. I lost my sister who was 2 years older than me, when I was 28. Hard times. I also fancy myself a bit of a plant nut. Your plant - schefflera- is tropical and shouldn't go below 50 degrees. They are very easy to propagate from cuttings. I've done in water or better in moist soil. Each country is different for requirements. Start with the USDA or TSA for guidelines. To transport you need bare root (no soil) and to declare through the Customs line. Mexico, from my experience, is much harder to get out of than into with plants. So countries require a phyto-sanitarty certificate to confirm no pests. You are probably best just to pack starts in your luggage (wrap in wet newspaper or papertowels and plastic bag) and declare upon arrival. Good luck!

  2. You might consider donating it to a school or a church, a place where it will be taken care of and appreciated. Are you driving to Hermosillo, or flying? It'll be a little easier to transplant if you drive.

    My mother is in the same situation you are - her mother received a potted ficus tree at her retirement ceremony in the late 1980s, and when she died a few years later, my mom inherited the tree. We can't just get rid of it, but we don't know what else to do with it.

    As for the photos, I'd take as many as you can with you - those turn out to be my favorite mementos of home when I'm overseas. Take small things in your carry-on luggage (if you're flying) and FedEx the rest of the stuff to yourself. FedEx tends to be a bit more reliable than movers, it seems.

  3. We've also had this debate many times when we've had to move. We've given our plants away to other plant lovers, people we know will appreciate them. We've also donated to hospitals, nursing homes, etc. We usually just call around and see who would be willing to take it and usually we've had really positive responses and the patients love to see something living! Good luck!

  4. Put your story on livelines and I know you'll find someone who will take it from you and keep it growing!

  5. Ironic story... When I was home last weekend mom asked me if she could get rid of my Joey plant since it too is starting to get rather big and grow sideways. I couldnt take it to Boston with me- but its been at every other apartment I've lived in since Joey died. I told her that was fine, but a part of me did feel a little sad. If I could figure out a way to get it to Boston I would totally keep it. Maybe you could plant it at a local soccer field, or small airport? I know it seems like a silly waste of time, but if i were going to put it anywhere- thats where i would pick.