The closest I’ll ever get to caring for a real living being!
I’m weird, there I’ve said it! I’m obsessive compulsive and once I’ve lock in on something, I can get very, very obsessed. For example, we watched a ‘60 minute’ type interview with Dr Michael Mosley re his Fast diet, and the very next day I started fasting and 8 years on I’m still doing it. And the latest thing I locked in on, was the need for an indoor plant!
It all started when work organised a wellness session for staff. Instead of coming together over MS Teams for another hour long ‘All in’, talking about ‘work stuff’. Instead, the whole hour was devoted to a prominent guest speaker, who gave us tips and tricks in how we could stay both physically and mentally healthy while working from home during the 2021 Sydney lockdown. And the speaker promoted the idea of having indoor plants as companions and for their air purifying qualities. And once she was pushed to advise on specifics, she named the Aloe Vera plant as the best plant to have around. And as soon as she mentioned that, I locked in and obsessed over the idea of having my very own Aloe Vera plant as a home office companion.
I probably get my obsessive ways from my mum, when my parents go overseas she only gives me one direction, that is to water her 2 most prized plants. One is this tall leafy indoor plant which resides in a corner in the guest bathroom. And the other is her Aloe Vera plant which lives outside, in a corridor between the house and the perimeter wall. All she asks of me and my wife, is to come over to their place once a week and water them (although she has many other plants, which we do end up watering as well). So, I asked my mum if she could take a cutting off her Aloe Vera plant, and plant it for me in a new pot? And her answer was, “I already have a healthy growing pup which I can give you.” And I said, “Yes please!”
I didn’t come into possession of Aloe until the Sydney lockdowns were lifted, the very first time we saw my parents after 4 months, they straight away handed me Aloe. And Aloe was much larger than I had anticipated, it resides in a heavy terracotta pot, and with the pot to its highest point of its leaves, it’s easily 30cm tall! Before receiving her (Aloe), I had planned to keep her in our home study, on the second highest shelf in a multi-purpose storage shelf. There was easily 25cm clearance, but Aloe was too tall for that. And she would also not get enough sunlight.
So, now we have a daily morning routine. After I finish yoga and before starting work in the mornings. I’d go into the home office, take Aloe from my desk (where she spends her nights), and move her out to the coffee table in the living room. Where I place her in a prime position a foot away from a North facing window. I open the vertical blinds a quarter and allow her to soke up the rays to her hearts content. And when I finish up work for the day, the first thing I do is retrieve her from the coffee table where she has been observing the world pass her by and bring her back into the study so she could purify the fetid air of toxins given off by my overworked work laptop (and admittedly from me as well).
And no joke, it does work! Sometimes an hour after leaving her in the study to her work, I come back in for something and I’d swear the air is purer. Gone is that heavy stuffy air which has built up after spending 8-10 hours at my desk, with the laptop fan going crazy trying to cool down the CPU. Replacing it, is a lighter less oppressive feeling.
And not only is Aloe great as a natural air purifier, but you can harvest her leaves for ointments or moisturisers for your skin. Although your Aloe Vera plant will generally stay the same size, but it’s always growing- growing new leaves. And the new leaves grow out from the centre, and as they get taller and thicker, they push out the older leaves, which then flop down, like a blossoming lotus. And the outer most leaves (the oldest of them all), they start to wilt, their tips hanging closer and closer to the coffee table. Once this happens, I use a sharp knife and cut the leaf off as close to the stem as possible, then clean the leaf and then cut them up into half inch strips. And then place them in a small zip-lock bag which I keep in the refrigerator. And every second day I take one of these strips, use my fingernail to split the leaf open, exposing the clear internal flesh and use it like a moisturizing cream on my face and hands. It feels super soothing and a couple of months on after commencing this bi-nightly ritual, I’d say my skin is better for it! And if you have any rashes or slightly sunburnt skin, applying Aloe on it immediately soothes the itch.
And I thought harvesting its leaves for my vanity sake, would leave poor Aloe bare and patchy, like a victim of a home haircut. But as quickly as I’ve been using her leaves, she’s been re-generating just as quickly, so that she still looks as robust and healthy as when we first adopted her- while I have a bag full of her cut up leaves still yet to be used.
And in summer, just around Christmas time we received the best present from her! She bloomed with flowers, a super long stem grew from the centre of her nest of leaves, the stem had to be 45cm long, and at the very top bloomed a small little yellow flower. And as I moved her from the study to the living room each morning, the little flower would bump up against my face (it was that tall), and it was almost like her way of showing her appreciation for how we were caring for her. Sunlight during the day, toxins to absorb in the night, and watering once a week- that’s all she needed from us! But I should be the one who’s thanking her, she’s so easy to care for, and she only gives back to us, lushes leaves with heeling properties, purifies the air that we breathe, and I’ve gained much joy from caring for her. Is it odd that sometimes I stroke her spikey leaves while admiring her robustness, like how one might pat a beloved pet dog?
On the face side of Dr Dre’s 2001 album, is an image of a marijuana leaf. And back in the day, there were many band t-shirts with that distinctive leaf bang smack right in the middle of them. But in this new age of working from home and people being more obscure with their statements, can we, devotees of the Aloe Vera plant, can we have the visage of the Aloe Vera plant emblazon on the front of our Ts? Stating that, “I’m cool, and I love my succulent plant companion’!
If you previously haven’t considered an Aloe Vera plant before as your indoor succulent. Check it out at your local nursery! A full-grown Aloe Vera plant will only set you back $12, but the value and pleasure it will give you! Utterly priceless!