I was reading the front page of one of our local rags, when I was reminded of a time a few years ago when my eldest sister Monica impressed me once again.
The newspaper article was illustrated with a photo of a pregnant woman smiling in front of a few of the potted plants she has placed around her community of Yarrow's downtown. "After two summers, the mother of two (soon to be three) estimates she has spent almost $2000 on plants, soil, pots, rocks and other materials to get some much-needed greenery into the town's three block downtown core," stated the article. "(Her) efforts began as her own pet project, but community members have jumped on board, watering and caring for the plants placed in pots outside their businesses." A week ago, four containers disappeared, and on the weekend, sixteen more were stolen.
I'm not surprised. Apparently some green thumbs are accompanied by a set of light fingers. Yes, I know gardening is big business and that plants and their containers can be quite expensive, especially if one wants to achieve that instant full garden look, but stealing other people's plants already carefully and lovingly potted, or plants from public spaces meant to be enjoyed by the community overall? Very low indeed.
A couple of years ago in April, my sister, Monica came down to stay with me and we attended an arts council conference in a nearby city. The conference was held at a brand new fine arts high school with lush landscaping. The weather was lovely so we ate our lunch outside in the courtyard and my sister and I took every chance to get off our chair-worn bottoms and go for walks around the grounds. After the final day's last session, Monica and I were preparing to leave when we noticed a woman with a black SUV, with the back open, digging up very newly planted bedding plants and placing them in boxes in the back of her vehicle. Now, I am a bit slow on the uptake and don't generally assume people are doing something they aren't supposed to be doing. Something about the woman's hurried manner, however, made me pause and say a decided, "hmmmm". Monica, experienced newspaper reporter and savvy sleuth merely exclaimed, "I think she's stealing those plants!"
After consulting a nearby couple who agreed that, yes, the woman certainly appeared to be helping herself to the plants, my sister began to approach the woman, while calling out "Are you stealing those plants?" The woman said nothing, but closed her tailgate and drove off in a hurry. I think it safe to say from her response, that yes, she was in fact a flower thief.
So what kind of person steals bedding plants or potted plants? What kind of mindset thinks it okay to take beauty and colour from a public place and transplant it for their own enjoyment only? Did the woman in the SUV think that because a microscopic portion of her tax dollars went to funding the high school's bedding plants, that they were somehow hers to take? I mean, I know a few people who will take a small snip off a shrub in the park and then propogate it at home to plant in their gardens, but they would draw the line at helping themselves to the entire rosebush, roots and all. I suppose it is the same mindset as the person who steals the bathrobe or towels from the hotel, or the person who helps herself to office supplies and toilet paper from the supply closet at work, and takes them home. When many of us were children caught with an unpaid for pack of gum from the corner store, we were marched back to shopkeeper, made to apologize, and pay for the stolen goods (in more ways than one), but we are meant to learn from that experience and grow up to respect the property of others. That must be it, then. Perhaps the woman in the SUV stealing bedding plants, and the people who stole the 20 potted plants from downtown Yarrow never were marched down to the corner store to face the music, or maybe they have forgotten what it's like to be caught, accused, tried, and punished for their crimes. Hopefully, my sister's bravery awakened the woman in the SUV just a little to the fact that, even if she is okay with taking what is not rightfully hers, that others certainly are not.
The photo above is from an article from www.vosizneias.com entitled, "Flower Thieves Terrorize NYC Neighborhood." The article suggests weighing down potted plants to make them heavier to lift and anchoring baby trees and shrubs to make them harder to steal. As one of the commenters on this website said in response to these suggestions, "Oy! What is the world coming to?"