28 October 98
On the windowsill over my sink are ten small pots containing eleven african violet plants. All the violets are descended from one plant which I acquired from the West Mountain Inn in Arlington, Vermont about twelve years ago.
At that time, the Inn's hosts provided each room with an african violet plant which had a note attached inviting the guests to take the plant home as a remembrance of their stay. The plant provided to us in the Governor Somebody-or-Other Room was labeled "Star Chips." It had pale green leaves and white flowers edged in violet. I remember thinking it didn't look well. So, even though the visit was memorable only for the bad food and the condescending attitude of the hosts, I took the plant home with me: I felt I was rescuing a fellow sufferer.
We got along well together, that small plant and I, and it has lived on my windowsills ever since, cheering my days. And, as I say, now there are eleven plants. I still have the "Star Chips" label stuck in one of the pots, but... now there are two distinct kinds of plants. Some have dark leaves with purple variegation on the back; the others have clear, light green leaves. The dark-leafed plants grow flat, leaves spread wide; the light-leafed plants tend to mound up.
The light-leafed plants are in bloom now. The blossoms are big, almost-white edged with violet. They're very pretty. When the other dark-leafed plants bloom, I know that the blossoms will be much darker, with very little white in them.
Sometimes I wonder how much any of my violets resemble their singular ancestor rescued from the West Mountain Inn. And I wonder, too, what they will look like generations from now when I leave them to my descendants.
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