Dealing with Triffids and Other Creeping Horrors

The Devil’s Ivy at home on the hearth – Photo by the author

I learned the other day that Pothos is also called Devil’s Ivy. The poisonous nature of its leaves inspires that name, surely undeserved. Pothos are very hard to kill. I can testify to their hardiness. During the lock down days of Covid, I abandoned a pot of ivy. Left to fend for itself in my office cubicle, the plant went two months with no water. I found the poor thing shriveled and dusty, its dry leaves scattered across the windowsill. I had at least left it with a decent view of the parking lot.

True to its name, the plant resurrected, and it is now determined to take over our fireplace hearth. Five years ago, I had one Pothos. Now I have eight. All started with clippings from that original pot. The vines can grow one foot every month. If my plants were sentient, they would take over the world. 

I think it is trying to reach our front door. Photo by the author

The recent rains have revived our garden. The roses are once again blooming. During July and August, they wilted in the heat like a southern belle at a cotillion. Throughout the summer, only the okra and a strange weed flourished. I identified the odd specimen with the help of a phone app—marestail, also called horseweed. Flamboyant and exotic, it sprang up to bloom in clusters of delicate flowers on a tall, leafy stem. It became the center point of our flower bed. The sight of it, upright and waving its limbs in the breeze, brings to mind a horror movie of the 1960s – Day of the Triffids. 

Horseweed standing tall in our garden. Photo by the author

The movie’s plot involves a meteor that crashes on earth, spreading alien plant spores and striking everyone blind. In the ensuing darkness, sentient ambulatory plants called Triffids take their creepy revenge on humankind. Although it would be ridiculously easy to outrun a walking plant, this film terrified me when I was a child.  

My pots of devil’s ivy unfurl their vines like arms. Perhaps they reach for me as I sleep. Would they curl their lovely, poisonous leaves across my face and into my mouth? I hope my gentle Pothos has nothing but concern as it stretches across the hearth, down the bookcase, along the windowsill. It needs me. Who would water it if I was gone? The roots carry the memory of that lonely isolation.

I have replaced my fear of Triffids with other creeping horrors. Old age, pain, dementia, debt. These are the terrors that keep me up at night. I’d gladly exchange them, not for blindness, but for Triffids. Even my stiff hips could outrun a sentient, ambulatory plant.

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