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Jean, Jean’s Cough, and the Plants in Outer Space

First the plant was in the Dominican

and then it was on Daytona Beach

and then it finally ended up on the trolley by the window. 

Jean said it would leave a pot ring on the Main Plateau

which it probably would, but Jean was not too concerned.

It is our only plant and we must put its well being before ours

Jean said, to which Jean replied with a tiny cough. 

In outer space, Jean said, there are plants whose roots are so talented

they absorb small bits of meteorite and convert their minerals into plant food. 

Jean responded with a somewhat tinier cough. 

Your coughs are getting  so tiny, Jean said.  I am worried that one day they will become too tiny for me to understand.  

Then the pile of sawdust started vibrating, and Jean shuffled over to it and put her ear to its center.  Hello, she said, very quietly.  

There was a man on the other end of the line.  It was Jean placing a previously recorded phone call. 

The plants in outer space must be masters of their own water, Jean said.  Some of the more remarkable plants have roots that are like tiny, soft syringes.  When they bump into a metorite, their roots enclose it in a hug.  This warms any ice that may be within it and thereby makes it available to them for drinking.  Plants are like you and me.  That is, they cannot drink ice.   

Jean removed her ear from the sawdust and went to the window to watch for the garbage crew.  She wondered if their hands got cold when they opened the garbage cans with mounds of snow on their lids.  Jean came over with a glass of hot chocolate and said that they probably did.   

Posted 01/20/10
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