On Saturday I talked online with my friend Chris, who is living in Jordan. He stayed when the rest of us went home, and got a job teaching English.
He asked what was going on, so I (naturally) told him about my vegetable garden. He asked for a list of my vegetative endeavors. When I got to "basil" he told me the sad story of his deceased basil, Boris, who gave up his will to live and would not cooperate for all the careful tending in the world.
Two things happened when I heard this story. First, I remembered why Chris and I were friends (well, then and again later when he told me the exciting things he was learning in grammar class). Second, I realized with some dismay that I had not named any of the plants in my garden.
They do all have personalities. And there have even been dramas: ambush attacks (The Great Sudden Onslaught of the Rolly Pollies, for instance), class warfare (nursery green beans v. last year's spontaneous seedlings), and disturbing treachery (the unassuming but wildly intrusive mint plant seeking refuge from a naive but thorny rose only to suck her lifeblood under the shelter of prickly stems -- "Die, murderous mint!" was the chant for that day).
And I did try to mother a basil plant akin to Chris's Boris. A basil plant that made NO EFFORT WHATSOEVER to live. (In its defense, it was neighbor to the cilantro, which transplanted flawlessly and quickly grew to be taller and happier and more arrogant than all the other plants. He must have given the basil an awful time.) Come to think of it, we did refer to her consistently as The Girl Alone at a Party, even if she didn't have a proper name.
My momentary remorse for not having named my plants soon faded with a glimpse through this splendid, glowing window of opportunity.
"Brutus" was the first name I thought of for the successor of my departed basil. And then if he dies (which could happen; he is not looking too great at this point), I will say "e tu, Brute?" And at least I will be entertained by this.
One of my three pepper plants will be named "Osvaldo." I don't know which one yet. Maybe the cayenne pepper that I only bought accidentally when I thought I had picked up a cucumber.
There are at least a dozen more plants that need naming after Brutus and Osvaldo, especially if I count my onions and garlic individually instead of as families.