“But God has never told us what a turkey means.”
— G. K. Chesterton
Thanksgiving at my mom’s house marked the beginning of the holiday season and the first of two serious turkey dinners. Our traditional family dinner was a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving feast 385 years ago, less the funny hats.
From my personal perspective, the Thanksgiving holiday has always meant an “interlude” from work and a time for being with family and friends. Catharine has told me that we all deserve the treat of rest, and I am thankful to have a couple days off and that my family is well.
We usually associate the resting period of plants with the arrival of autumn, cooler temperatures and the possibility of rain. In temperate climates like Laguna, these periods of quiescence also coincide with shortened and decreased intensity of daylight hours.
Most plants require a break, just as we require sleep and a vacation. This is necessary to prepare a plant for its life pursuit, specifically to grow, flower and produce fruit. Under natural conditions, a plant may remain at rest for a period of weeks or even months.
Plants are said to be resting when they simply quit growing (not to be confused with an annual completing of its life cycle). No matter how much we fertilize or water, Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass will not grow or turn green during their dormant period.
Likewise, once a deciduous tree loses its leaves, it will not releaf until its environmental conditions are favorable for regrowth. Quiescence is an internal mechanism of a plant, affected by external temperature, quantity and quality of light, and available moisture.
Many plants have adapted to their climes — they grow during the rainy season, and rest during the dry season. Plants as diverse as cacti of the deserts, orchids of the tropics and natives of the chaparral are all examples of this adaptation. Resting prepares the plants for blossoming and prevents them from weak and frail growth, a possibility if nature attempted to keep them in a period of activity throughout the year.
It was only after my second helping of everything that I considered that I might be responsible for turkeys being placed on the endangered list. However, that momentary thought was lost in the midst of the third plate. So much for quiescence … and on second thought, I may have to wander in the desert just a bit this weekend. See you next time.
STEVE KAWARATANI has been a local guy for 58 years, and still loves his mother’s cooking. He cannot be reached this weekend, because he plans to rest.