Jeet Kune Do Blog

Insights from Sifu Joel Ledlow

I have 64 plants.

I have 64 plants.

More accurately, that is the number of containers I have inside with plants growing in them. They range from cuttings that are growing in water to small potted plants to herb containers with several small plants to a few giant plants that wind their way around the walls. At least that's the count right now. It could change. Probably will change. Very likely has already changed from this writing to your reading. Maybe even from this writing to actual posting.

When we moved to Winnipeg from the United States, we couldn't take any of our plants with us. Bummer. I've always had plants around since I moved out on my own. I got some cuttings and a love for growing things from my grandmother. Over the years, I've grown and killed and given away a lot of plants. I grew this tiny little parlour palm plant in my apartment in Japan. It got quite large in the year I was there. I left it with one of the students. I hope she still has it!

I've always liked having something green and growing in my home. Especially during the winter months.

When we moved to Winnipeg, I was introduced to winter. Sorry. I was introduced to WINTER. It's pretty harsh here in Winnipeg. Its nickname is "Winterpeg". And that's from other Canadians!

Winter here gets to -40. It doesn't matter if you use Celsius or Fahrenheit, because they match at -40. It's not always that cold, but it always gets that cold at some point during the winter. Or colder. Add in the wind and short days with weak sunshine, and it can get pretty bleak.

You have two choices when faced with winter like we have here in Winnipeg: you can endure it or you can embrace it.

Faced with colder days than I'd ever experienced in my life and a winter that would last longer than I thought possible, I chose to defy it. Yes, there was a third option.

You have to understand that I grew up in Oklahoma. Yes, it got cold there. BUT never this cold, and never for this long. A harsh week of winter weather in Oklahoma would be a fairly mild week of winter in Winnipeg. Then I lived in Los Angeles. I did actually see it snow once in LA. It was a mild dusting that was gone minutes after hitting the ground. A year in Tokyo too. It's pretty much like LA. The point is that none of those places had the deep cold that Winnipeg has, nor did any of those places stay cold for anywhere near as long as it does here.

So how did I defy winter? Yeah, you should have guessed it pretty easily. Plants.

I found a store in town that had grow lights. So I got some lights and set them up with plants under them.

It is astounding how much better a plant can make you feel in the middle of winter. Additionally, the extra light for the plants had a positive affect on me as well. I first set it up in our basement. My wife was very tolerant of me setting up the lights and plants. When our children saw it and exclaimed at the sight of plants in the bright lights, she gave up the idea of dissuading me.

Naturally, I got more lights! And, yes, I got more plants too!!

I set the lights up around our big window in the living room. It faces the east, and gives amazing light in the summer. Sometime in the Fall, we start turning on the lights. This helps the plants maintain enough daily light. It helps us too.

I didn't start with 64 plants. I'm not entirely sure how many I did start with. They were all little ones or cuttings. A few gluttonous summers with some supplemented winters allowed them to grow. My wife began to enjoy the extra light and the increasingly green areas of the house. She does not water them. She does not repot them. She does not do cuttings. She does not do anything with them. Except enjoy them. We all do.

Shockingly red flowers on a cold, cold winter's day can sure brighten your outlook.

It's a reminder that Summer will return. That even in the bleakest of winter's days, there is light and green and life.

Having that green inside through the winter makes it easier to go outside. You know there is a haven of plants and light to return to after the bleak cold. By defying winter within our home, it has allowed us to embrace winter outside of our home. We can go skating, for a walk, or build a snowman. We can do this and then come back into our home full of green. And knowing that these plants, with some help, can endure the harsh winters here in Winnipeg, it reminds us that we can also endure. Giving these plants water and light through the winter, we see that they not only endure, but they continue to grow and thrive.

So with a few plants, 64 and counting, we can not only endure. We can thrive. We can embrace life during these harsh winters.

Many martial artists over the centuries have used gardening for meditative purposes. I do as well.

Growing a plant, shows that with time and care the plant can grow. Just like a martial artist. Sometimes, we must endure a little. Sometimes, we must embrace a little. Sometimes, we must defy a little. In the end, we hope to grow and thrive.

Create a world in which you can grow and thrive.