Aloe's well that ends well

I went to yoga class empty-handed on Tuesday night and came home with an aloe plant.

One of my classmates brought the potted plants to give away, because he's moving.

And, as he explained, these are no ordinary aloe plants.

He found the mother plant growing in a compost pile in Venice Beach, Calif., when he lived there a few years ago. He carefully siphoned off some leaves and began growing the aloe at his house, making a few more pots every few weeks, until he had dozens.

The plants have survived the trek up the West Coast to Ashland and other adventures across the U.S. he's taken them on.

"They're well-traveled," he said.

They've been used in countless home remedies to heal wounds, he said, showing me a scar on his forearm.

But, on Tuesday, the aloe father decided he needed to adopt out a few of his children.

"I have too many," he said. "My house is filled with aloe."

"Sounds like a nice house," I said.

I have always been a big proponent of houseplants. Sure, it's nice when plants grow in their natural space, outside, in the ground — but the miraculous thing about plants, as my yoga friend found, is that you can transplant a piece of them into a pot and create an entirely new plant.

I bet the mother aloe plant is still thriving in its compost pile in Venice Beach.

As long as we're living indoors, in houses, it's refreshing to have some potted plants around.

They filter the air. They remind us that we don't live separate from nature, even if we live in an apartment in the middle of the city.

They help us remember that many living things — not just people — are affected by our actions.

When I live with plants, I have dreams about them. On Tuesday night, after receiving the aloe, I dreamed that another houseplant I have, an indestructible pothos, was winding its leaves over my room and making a hammock for me out of its stems.

See? It's nice to sleep beside plants.

Then I had a dream that I had accidently left my aloe plant out in the cold, and it was shivering, trying to shake off the frost. I woke up startled and had to go check on the aloe.

See? Plants will avenge you in your sleep if you mistreat them.

Wait "… I'm getting ahead of myself.

It turns out, the aloe plant was safely sitting on my living room table, where I had unpacked it from my backpack after biking home from yoga.

I guess aloe's well that ends well.

I know it's a bad Shakespeare pun, but if you live in the Bard's town, you're entitled to a few. Maybe one every 10 years?

Meanwhile, I'm going to keep having my midwinter's night dreams about plants. My aloe may be well-traveled already, but it had better be prepared to go a lot farther in my dreams.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or For past columns see

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