Diary of a Space Zucchini, Part 2
Diary of a Space Zucchini
Oh my aching roots! I am sick; my flower buds have wilted into little brown nubbins. My leaves have a fringe of brown that gets wider every day. The edges are curled and brittle almost like dried out leaves yet I have plenty of tea to drink. On Earth my leaves would be drooping but here in weightlessness they stay extended and from a distance they do not look sick. Perhaps my symptoms, thus masked, were not observed by Gardener as soon as they would have been if we were on Earth. Gardener is beside himself and is working hard to find a solution. This is not good; I feel in my roots that I may soon be going to the Great Compost in the ground.
Sunflower’s leaves are covered with brown spots. Both he and I are not feeling well. Broccoli seems to be doing OK. My gardener says it is something in the tea. The brown fringe on my leaves is growing. They do not sing anymore.
Broccoli is not doing well. His leaves are turning yellow. The brown spots on Sunflower are growing. We are dying from some space malady. Gardener is frantically working to save us. I have heard that there is nothing to fear about the Great Compost. My only regret is that I will not be here on the frontier to help in this mission.
I float on the edge of the brown abyss. My leaves have fallen off and I am merely a stalk. I am stripped of my call sign “Rose” let alone even being a zucchini. Sunflower has lost his leaves and now looks like a tangled piece of green yarn. Broccoli has only yellow leaves. I have one root in the Great Compost. I have heard that you should follow the dark. Call on me tomorrow and you shall find me compost!
Diary of a Space Zucchini
Apr 24, 2012 03:27:24 PM | Don Pettit
There was a time where I had no memory; I thought this must be the Great Compost. Since waking I heard Gardener talking to me about what happened. We were transplanted once again into new plastic bags. Our stems and roots were trimmed. Our water diet was replaced with a new tea, one that is not salty. Our roots are happy drinking this new concoction. It is actually quite pleasant and is free from that sour taste. It makes me smile. I noticed that Sunflower and Broccoli are still with us and we are all part of the crew. We may be leafless stalks but are sprouting new tiny leaf-buds. They are a vibrant green and brought a smile to Gardener’s face. Did I notice a small bit of water in the corner of his eyes? Oh the magic in a topical meristem. Plants have an incredible capacity to regenerate, something that Gardener says he cannot do. I have a meristem on top that generates new leaves and a meristem below that generates new roots. As long as these meristems live, we can regenerate ourselves. There are perils when you explore, when you venture off into the space frontier. You go into the unknown where the answers are no longer in the back of the book. You observe, thus gathering new knowledge to share with all those plants that remain firmly root-bound on the Earth. And sometimes the price is paid with leaf and stem.
I overheard my gardener talking to his crewmates about the new tea. He was reluctant to say how it was made. He said it was an ancient recipe, “Don’t ask, don’t tell”
We are recovering, growing greener every day. I still only have only four tiny leaves but am able to return to my crew duties. Sunflower grows his leaves in pairs and now has two. Broccoli is in the best shape with a bunch of new leaves coming out. For such a weak sproutling, he is one tough crewmate. It is good to have him along.
We got a radio call from my gardener’s gardener at 03:50, which woke everyone from a deep Saturday morning sleep. A piece of space junk, an old rocket body, was on a possible collision course with our spaceship. All hands on alert!
We had to prepare for an emergency evacuation. The chance of a collision was small but would be devastating so we had to prepare. As a precaution, we closed every hatch on our spaceship leading up to where our escape capsule was docked. This took about half an hour. When closing the last hatch leading from the Laboratory module, I volunteered to stay behind with Sunflower and Broccoli. We may be sporting small leaves but we are here standing tall, ready to do our job. Somebody had to stay behind to take care of the spaceship. With all the hatches closed and the ventilation turned off, it became real quiet, and stuffy too. In weightlessness, there is no buoyancy driven convection thus the cabin air remains stagnant. The droning of fans operating 24 hours a day are required to keep the air stirred and of uniform composition. I have heard Gardener say that when working behind a rack or some confined place where there is no circulation, a pocket of carbon dioxide can build up and give him a headache. Sometimes he will set up a small portable fan when working in such a place. He should take Sunflower, Broccoli, or me with him and perhaps he would not need the fan. Thus sealed in the Laboratory module for the collision safe haven, there was no air movement of any kind and we felt the oxygen building up around our leaves. If this lasted too long we might suffocate for lack of carbon dioxide. The space junk passed without hitting us. When my crew opened the hatch and ventured back into the module, we were able to greet them with a small breath of fresh air.