The Secret Life of Plants

I once knew an agave cactus who admitted to me that he was in love with a ficus fig.  He knew the romance couldn’t last since he only bloomed once a century, and Ms. Fig was expecting some sort of overt display of affection.

38 responses to “The Secret Life of Plants

  1. “Angus, if you don’t stop your moping about, your leaves will freeze in that position.”

    “Mother, that’s an old wives’ tale,” said Angus, even though he suspected it might be true because every day he noticed that though his leaves were growing longer, they were starting to droop at the tips.

    “What is the matter with you, son?”

    “It’s Francine, Mother. I simply can’t think of a way to get her to notice me.”

    “Francine? Francine!!! You mean that ficus fig down the street? Why, Angus, you can do much better than someone from that Moraceae family.”

    “But, I love her. I’m thinking about going to the hardware store and getting some fertilizer high in phosphorus so I’ll bloom young and she’ll notice me.”

    “Oh, my Monocots! I’ve never heard of such a thing. You know what happens after you bloom, don’t you? What would any woman want of a Silversword about to die, even a ficus?”

    “What? What did you say? Did you call me a Silversword? I thought I was an Agave.”

    “Only on your father’s side, Angus, and that was many generations ago. Look at your leaves, you foolish boy. Don’t you see how silvery there are? And do you not see how you have no spines like your father has?”

    “Yes, but I thought they were his whiskers.”

    “Angus, just go Google Silversword.”

    Weeks later, Angus mustered the courage to speak to Francine Ficus.

    “Francine, I have been wanting to talk with you for a very long time. Is this a good time?”

    “Why, Angus Agave, I thought you’d never speak to me,” said Francine. Angus was too nervous to pick up on that clue, so he blundered onwards like a teenaged boy.

    “Francine, I know it is customary for suitors to bring Miracle Gro fertilizer or See’s Chocolates or 1-800 Flowers when calling on a lady fig. I, however, cannot carry any of those items. I thought about forcing myself to bloom, but then I would shrivel and die and that is counter to my purpose.

    “Therefore, dear Francine, I would like to ask your father, Franklin Ficus, if I may have your hand in what amounts to marriage in the Kingdom Plantae. Being a careful planner, I wanted to discuss this with you first.”

    “Why, Angus, this is such a surprise. I’ll have to consider this. Where would we live? In the harsh desert with the scorching sun and blasting sand? That would be so hard on my complexion.”

    “No, my love. A tropical kingdom awaits us on a distant island, the island of my forebears, on my mother’s side. I plan to travel there with you and live in Paradise.”

    “But, Angus, the agave families live in deserts or in xeriscape yards.”

    “My sweet Francine. Not long ago I found out I was but a distant relative of the Agave Family. I am a specimen of the rare Silversword and we will live with my brethren in our ancestral home, The House of the Sun. I can promise you an island in the sky where the clouds spread out below us like a second layer of ocean,” said Angus, plagiarizing his Google research.

    “I promise you soft showers to keep your complexion always young, and all the colors of the rainbow within your view, colors that shape-shift as the sun moves from side to side. In the evenings as the sun sets, you will see the ropes of hair that Maui used to lasso the sun and bind it to the earth. It is there that Maui lives and keeps vigil so the sun does not move too quickly across the sky, causing the kapa cloth not to dry and the fruits not to ripen.”

    “Maui!” exclaimed Francine.

    “Yes, dear Francine. I promise you Haleakala Crater on the island of Maui if you will marry me.”

    “Oh, Angus, I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii.”

  2. galelikethewind

    This is not a HARD act to follow- this is an IMPOSSIBLE act to follow. What a fantastic piece of fiction, research, and humor.

  3. Ditto! As always, a stunner.

  4. Aw, you guys are so nice and supportive.

  5. There once was a cactus named Agave
    Who lived a charmed life in the Mojave
    Till a ficus quite renown
    Turned his life upside down
    Now he’s living on peat and Mondavi


  6. galelikethewind

    An Agave in the Mojave – stunning!

  7. Now, someone has to write about tequila. Do figs drink tequila?

    • Have done, Gully. Back in the Sixties. Trendy bar in Swinging London. She sneered at my drink, then laughed at me. Tequila-mocking bird.

      • Well, there you are. I took the studded snow tires off today. Did you turn off the air conditioning and turn on the heat?

      • I wasn’t hibernating as you suggested elsewhere, I was resting between enragements. Actually, the weather here’s just like the story of my life: neither incredibly hot nor super cool.

      • Tsk, tsk. You should have known better than to drink tequila in London where everyone drinks gin. I know that because of the Beefeater on the bottle….

      • galelikethewind

        Speaking of Tequila Mockingbird, I love Puns so much that I sent in 10 entries to a National Pun Contest; I thought for sure one of them would win, but no pun in ten did..

      • Gee, Gale, I must finally be maturing, because I’ve suddenly developed groan pains.

      • Galelikethewind


        Harper Lee we roll along, roll along,
        Harper Lee we roll along,
        O’er the deep blue sea.

    • I’d understand these puns if you’d put them in lame man’s terms.

  8. I once knew an agave cactus who admitted to me that he was in love with a ficus fig. He knew the romance couldn’t last since he only bloomed once a century, and Ms. Fig was expecting some sort of overt display of affection.

    Sir Cact wasn’t a run of the mill cactus. He was a Tequila Blue Agave Cactus. He’d learned how to extract tequila from his veins and he’d stored up a large vat of it in an underground receptacle. Over the years, his cache had no use, that is, until, Sir Cact fell in love with Ms. Fig.

    One very dry day in the desert, Sir Cact took a deep breath and walked across the sand to where his love lived. Ms Fig smiled coquettishly as he drew near.

    Sir Cact went down on one knee. “I love you, Ms. Fig. I love you dearly. I want to be with you forever.”

    “Come close. It’s taken you a hell of a long time to make a move. I’m not a procrastinator. Let’s jump in the sack before you get cold feet and run off.”

    Sir Cact stumbled to his feet, sputtering and stammering. “I’m sorry, my love. You must be patient. I can’t immediately prove my love. In fact, my “you know what” blossoms only once every 100 years. Twas 1955 when my last act of manliness took place. I think I was good, but sixty years blurs a fellow’s memory.”

    “Well, I’ll be damned. I’ve never heard of such a thing. Pray tell, what am I supposed to do until 2055. Holding hands doesn’t really do it for me,” Ms. Fig retorted.

    “I do have something that’s better than sex. Come on over to my place and I’ll show you what I have to offer. Please do, Ms. Figure. Oops, I mean, Ms. Fig.”

    “Well, there’s hope for you. At least you know how to talk dirty. Let’s go. Show me your stuff, I mean, what do you have that’s so fine?”

    Sir Cact and Ms Fig crossed the sand to Sir Cact’s abode. After settling Ms Fig into a comfy spot, he proceeded to pour two glasses of tequila, drawing it from his plenteous reserves.

    “Cheers, my love. I promise you the years will fly by if you’ll stay by my side. Taste this tequila extracted from my heart. If you’ll be content with me, I will keep your glass full from now until I can do better for you.” Sir Cact was on his knee again.

    “Let me see,” Ms Fig said. She swirled the tequila in her glass and sniffed it. Without further ado, she drained the glass in three gulps and immediately sat erect.

    “Is it good?” Sir Cact asked. He was startled to find that Ms Fig was an accomplished drinker.

    “I’m erect and you’re not. Go figure. Oh well, what the hell. I’m convinced your heart couldn’t be finer based on the quality of this tequila extract. If you’ll promise to keep my glass full and mist my leaves with this potion as well, I suppose I can wait.” Ms Fig held her glass out to Sir Cact. She grinned and threw down another glass of her love’s pure blood.

    Sir Cact spoke fervently as he grasped Ms Fig’s hand. “I promise you all that you’ve asked of me. When my time comes again in forty years, we’ll both enjoy an unforgettable Tequila Sunrise!!”

    (Bear with me, please. I made a promise to myself to write from Ann’s prompts no matter what).

  9. Poor Abner Agave. He so wanted to talk with that cute ficus fig across the way, but every time he tried to screw up his courage, he felt rooted to the spot.

  10. Well…fellow writers…any feedback? Or are y’all speechless? Say anything, I “think” I can take it. 🙂

  11. Speechless. No, I enjoyed this, though Ms. fig was a bit more than coquettish, no?

    Loved the Tequila Sunrise remark.

  12. I loved Mr. Cact, your Tequila Blue man! He used his assets to woo the promiscuous Ms Fig and won! Lots of double meanings there. Good one, Shaddy!

    • Cheryl aka Shaddy

      Thanks a bunch, Linda! I scribbled this story down in between a bunch of stuff I was doing on Sunday. I’m determined to post something even if I don’t feel confident that it’s good. I almost deleted this story but instead took a deep breath, cringed and hit the POST button.

      You’ve made my day with your comment.

      • Shaddy, I can’t believe you were going to deprive us of this by deleting it. It was such a fun read. Loved it.

      • Shaddy, I’m heartened that you did not delete this gem into oblivion. I’m a bit jealous of the writers who have known you for some time now, as I have just recently become one of your biggest fans.

  13. Off Topic….AGAIN

    Yummy, Chicken Fricassee, it must be Tuesday, my father said as his opening volley for our dinner conversation. What did you learn today at school?”
    My older brother, J.J. answered first by telling us that he had kicked Dicky James in the leg because Dicky cheated at Dodge Ball. My younger sister, Chibby, reported that she had gotten a sore butt when her partner jumped off the Teeter Totter and slammed her seat to the ground.
    “Mrs. Locke and the man from Sybil Depends (Civil Defense) showed us how to Duck and Cover,” I replied.
    “Who is Sybil Depends and what is Duck and Cover?”
    “ I don’t know who Sybil is, but the Duck stuff is for when the Red Menace drops a bomb on us. We are suppose to drop to the floor, get under our desks and cover our heads with our hands. That will keep the bombs away.”
    If you were a grade school kid in the 1950’s, you too learned about Duck and Cover. The Cold War was heating up with the Soviet Union and the threat of nuclear bombs was looming ever present. Many families considered building bomb shelters in the back yard for protection. I remember my mother and father talking about such a structure for our home, but they decided not to install one. That worried me. How were we going to keep the bombs away if they fell when we were at home instead of school?
    “J.J., why aren’t we going to get a bomb shelter?” I asked my brother because he knew everything about everything.
    “If Dad builds a shelter, it will only be big enough for us. The rest of the people in the neighborhood will want to get in with us, but we won’t have enough food for them, so Dad will have to shoot them. OK? So that’s why… because Dad doesn’t want to have to kill Lois and Linda.”
    The Tilley girls, Lois and Linda lived next door, and killing them sounded like a fine idea to me. They were whiners anyway.
    “But what are we going to do when the Red Menace comes to drop the bombs? We don’t have a desk to get under at home.”
    “You are so stupid Peanut. We have a Ping Pong table. That is so much bigger and better. OK?….OK!
    I was fine with that answer because I really didn’t understand anything about the Cold War or bombs anyway. As long as I had a big brother and a Ping Pong table to protect me, I would be just fine.
    The events in Boston last week made me remember the days of fearing the Red Menace and their bombs. I long for the Cold War days when we knew who and where our enemy was. The deadly randomness of terrorism is much more frightening… and much more real.

    • One more reason why we brag about the good old days. I’m glad you got off the subject, Peanut.

    • galelikethewind

      Thanks for the memory. I remember clasping my hands ever so tightly behind my tiny six year old neck, and having that childlike faith that it would truly protect me from an atomic bomb.

  14. Lisa: Thanks for your supportive comment.

  15. Peanut: Aw…you’re very nice.

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