don’t let go

I’ve been very frustrated with my writing progress lately.  I feel I need to find my feet again, get back to a disciplined schedule, work diligently in the direction of my goals and dreams.   A desire to return to a small, doable, steady, daily habit of writing is part of the motivation behind this weblog.

I could do worse than to take a lesson from the cucumbers.

This is a portrait of a tenacious tendril of Lemon Cucumber.  Way back in May when I planted these seeds, I determined that I would not trellis this variety, as this classic American heirloom produces small, pale yellow, oval fruit.  (“Rather like a tennis ball,” one gardening catalog put it, and I thought, “Hey, what about like a lemon?”  Ahem.)  Anyway, the little lemons don’t need to hang vertically to develop their best shape, unlike many varieties of cuke — and who wants the extra work of building a trellis that isn’t even needed?

My decision to let them roam free had some unintended consequences.  These vines are over 10 feet long now, and instead of snaking gracefully between the eggplant and tomato rows, as I anticipated, they first artfully draped themselves over the basil plants and strayed into my walking path and then, when redirected, decided to storm the tomato cages.  And they never appeared to move.  They did it millimeter by millimeter, one moment at a time.

First, a long, straight tendril grows outward from the vine, reaching, reaching.  If it finds nothing, it shrivels up on the vine to give place to a more successful shoot.  But if the newborn tendril touches a support — in fact, if it touches anything at all, if it merely brushes against a seemingly solid object when the breeze blows (like my skirt, for instance), it will begin to curl sinuously.  The next time the vine sways near the object of its desire, it will grab on with the end of its new loop or hook-like curl, if such a feat is at all possible.  It doesn’t even need to get a very strong hold.  Just an initial contact.  And then it will start reeling itself in, spiraling for as long as it takes, coiling that long tendril until the vine is firmly anchored.

Whenever the tendril has found a way to climb, it will not let go, even if that means crushing a hapless tomato leaf in its spring-like vise.  And in this way, the vine will get wherever it wants to go.


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