I have never before had an African violet, and this is the first plant I have owned in several years. I did receive gorgeous bouquets of cut flowers several times from my writing teacher/friend, once from a  florist and other times from her garden. The florist bouquet arrived upon publication of my chapbook, PAPER CRANES, when it went on the list of Best Seller on Amazon for a while. I was thrilled to get cut flowers, as well as to get home grown tomatoes and other salad stuff. I really enjoyed the big salads made for me by my friend/mentor. I love, love, love flowers and plants, but had not owned a plant in a long time because I feared I would inadvertently kill it.

So when I was recently given an African violet, I set out to take good care of it. Perhaps the plant knows I like it a lot, for it is responding to my clutzy attentions.I knew that water could not be allowed to spot the leaves, so watered it at the lip of its pot, not quite knowing why there were no drainage holes. I asked a couple of people and nobody knew about care for it. I was considering asking FB people or looking up on the internet, when at last I found someone who knows about them.

The African violet should be watered from the bottom of its pots. Lo and behold there were two pots purposely nested inside each other. Pull them apart and put water inside the outer pot. Then, don’t let it drain as with other kinds of plants, but rather nest the inner (green)  pot inside the outer (white) pot. The plant likes to suck up water through its roots.

I felt as though I should have known this. But why would I know, until the secret was revealed?   Now I feel more confident. I am glad the plant is doing well despite my lack of expertise. Lush and green, it graces my window.

I began to wonder  if and when more white flowers would come along. It did have one white flower when I got it. Perhaps I will ask or look it up. Or, wait until the white flower surprises me.





Fiction | June 30, 2017
African Violets
Emma Bushnell
I should move the African violets. Apparently direct sunlight will kill them, there on the ledge. So said my date, a man who works at a plant nursery.
“It looks like you’re using cold water,” he diagnosed. “Room temp only, in the saucer. Let them drink through the roots.”
“I always kill my plants,” I acknowledged.
He asked with penetrating seriousness: “are you an over waterer or an under waterer?”
I became unmoored. Some dark part of my inner self was about to be laid bare to both of us for the first time. “An under waterer.”
He nodded. There will never be anything real between us, now that we both know I’m not maternal.
I’ll move the violets to the table. They’ll still die, but I’ll not be cruel.


[This post was written many years ago…I have a lifetime of writing and memories to draw from…some writing I am now unearthing, rediscovering. ]



Tonight, looking up at the sky for a few minutes, I observed the sky minutely, a patch of sky, a kind of bruised light plum color, a patch of real dark blue, puffs of clouds looking little somehow, little puffs; I imagined what it might be to be a painter observing these puffs of clouds, these colors: the light bruise color, a kind of light plum, the patch of blue, blending together; to be a painter who was capable of putting this scenery on canvas, probably in oils or maybe in watercolor. That I will never do; but I did feel, for a few minutes, that I was observing the world through a painter’s eyes. I was pleased that I was moved to observe so closely, at all; I think now of Edna Millay’s poem, Wild Geese; or is it Wild Swans? I guess swans. The swans fly over. Tiresome heart, closing the door, etc. She got tired of her inner feelings and observed the wild swans outside of her, above her, and got outside of herself, yet perhaps her feelings about the wild birds echoed her own feelings about herself, for the geese are “trailing their legs and crying.”
My observation of the clouds reminded me of another day when I observed clouds from my porch, and had a feeling that a poem could be coming along from me. The clouds triggered in me memories, that time, of the ball fringe on my curtains when I was staying at my parents’ house several years ago and spending a lot of time daydreaming about a relationship (making love) with a woman; I thought, secretly, that my daydream would never come true, even though I would sometimes say, when talking about it to a therapist or just in my own inner thoughts, “Well, maybe someday it’ll happen.” I truly thought it would never happen; but it did. I wonder how much this is true of the rest of my life, the other things that I wish would happen.