The Wisdom of Things Found 2: Root Man

July 2011, in My Garden

A root that looks like a person

"try to see beyond my ugliness"

Root Man was found in the bottom of a flowerpot that I was emptying into the compost. To be honest, he gave me a bit of a fright when I first saw his grotesque figure. He put me in mind of the legendary mandrake root that is supposed to look too human for comfort and is alleged to scream when you pull it out of the ground. But, Root Man is a miracle of natural anthropomorphism and also reminds me of our tendency to see ourselves reflected in nature, and our constant search for our own likeness in others.

Well, when I let Root Man speak for himself he told me some crazy stuff. He said that our time on this earth is like his life in the soil but that that is not the whole story.

He told me that, as far as moles or earthworms are concerned, a dandelion looks like its roots, they don’t see the flower. We recognise a plant by its leaves, fruit and flowers but the subterranean world distinguishes between the mysterious characteristics of roots.

If you showed an earthworm a daffodil, it would be blinded by the magnificent colour and shape but it would say to you, “that’s not a daffodil, a daffodil is brown and bulbous with stringy tendrils coming off it”. Likewise, we have no idea how angels (for instance) see us on the other side, because all we see of ourselves and others is the root part.

“So…” concluded Root Man, “when you look at people around you, try to see beyond the muddiness and twistyness. This is not what I am. I am actually a red geranium!”

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