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Plastics are as natural as gardens

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This is a most human event. We gather here today to visit a fistful of nature, or a cupping hand, it depends from man to man. 

The Northwest Flower & Garden Festival was here. The greatest collection of cardigans turns out to patron exhibit, booth, and seminar — everything gardening, and then some. Here, nature is refined to zoo exhibits and products alike. 

Off on the horizon, I can see the ghostly stages where garden-centric seminars are held; in tandem with ‘Container Wars,’ an archaic practice where master gardeners reveal how to stuff innocent plants into varying boxes, even for the novice. Booths sell potted plants and Tempurpedic mattresses. A majority of the gimmick rests in meandering around these display gardens in dim blue light. 

I’m not immune. No one is. I’m taken in by these display gardens. 

In the rear of the room, past the Toyota dealership and COVID-19 memorial, it begins with this display — petite Bonsai trees, fake rocks, and a pond. The water is so clear you can see the smooth face collection of stones. I resist shedding my sweater and the slacks and climbing in. 

Victoria Winter | The Seattle Collegian The pond. There were too many witnesses, but would I, even in an empty room?

The pond is my desire — to lay down in the blue light and be fully submerged — to get close enough to the quiet that I can begin again. This is my nature as an animal. But all around me are humans, things, unspoken and explicit boundaries which obfuscate us from our nature. 

Natural. Is everything natural? Even these boundaries? What is this narrative that man-made creations — plastics and lakes molded in the 1960s alike — are separate from nature?  

Is everything natural, even the Pepto Bismol-pink T-Mobile booth? Sometimes our nature is determined by a submission to the will of our environment. 

I spoke briefly with Kimberly from Nil Organic Tea, one of the vendors present under the fluorescent lighting. “I was, like, rolling my eyes so hard, I’m surprised they didn’t fall out of my head … but it worked!” I had asked her how she ended up in this business after immigrating from Britain.  “Everybody expected us to sell tea and wanted to buy tea from someone with a British accent. So, I was like, ‘Okay! I can do that.’” 

Nature isn’t fixed. You can domesticate it, refuse it, resist it, and succumb. Whatever you need in the moment. 

Victoria Winter | The Seattle Collegian An elderly customer of an anti-aging product.

Whether nature is something we create, or even curate — manicure our precious lawns with demo hoses, or something we create from inside of — that’s for us to decide in the very present breath. Whatever perception we need to get to the next breath. Operation is an act of submission. 

“It’s like, a point of pride, to be able to grow something,” this boy named Ethan said. The control found in growing something, is so delicately human. 

One could sneer, and note the illusory nature of the control, but isn’t it also gentle? Without infantilization of botanists and gardeners alike, is there not something quite innocent about wanting to domesticate and care for this creature that doesn’t need us? 

I walk the halls sloshing rosé. How many of us intended to end up here? 

Victoria Winter A plastic picnic in a garden display. I almost teared up.

I leave with a small Venus flytrap in hand.

Victoria Winter is trying to prove that nothing human is alien to us. On paper, she is a second year student at Seattle Central College, potentially majoring in anthropology and philosophy. In reality, she is fascinated by using the mediums of photojournalism and writing to explore subcultures - the fringes, the limelight, and everything in between. She is in love with humans. Her only firm beliefs are that everything should be explored and most things are easier at night.

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