Plants and Prints

The prize find of the day.


This old grandmother of an aloe must be 25, that’s about as old as they get, and she’s so heavy and covered with pups — what you call the fledgling aloe sprouts — that she’s weighed down to sprawling. When I got her, for free, at the plant nursery that was going out of business, she was covered with mud splatters. Seen better times. Kind of like the nursery itself, which just could not make a go of it any more. Supposedly getting replaced by condos. A beautiful place, even with now-bare shelves.

nursery empty shelves

I was touring the sad, magical stops of lower Westchester with my photographer friend Josefa (she made the above image) and this was the last place we went, with its half-off fertilizer and unwanted boxes of pine cones, its frowzy ferns and cold-shocked begonias. The heat had been off for a week. It’s amazing my aloe survived.

Earlier in the morning we visited an estate sale in a condo with wide open views of the Hudson. An artist had lived there, an aged woman who’d died a year ago according to her nephew. He was warily standing guard over a studio cluttered with evidence of her inspired relationship with the world.

my print

There were hundreds of wood block prints and all the intricate tools she’d used to create their templates.


Nudes. Expressive rocks.

rock face

The things that got her going, baskets of bones and patina’d photos.



A single bed with a rumpled afghan was pulled into the corner, giving a sense of a person who lived, literally, with her work, in that cluttered cloister overlooking the river. An easel, a paint-spattered stepstool. The things that were hers. Her name: Murray.

paint stool

Upstairs, the more conventional life. Tables and chairs, pots and pans. I bought a trinket, an ornament, her tree to mine.


Merry Christmas, Murray. I hope they have carving tools, wherever you find yourself now.


Filed under Art, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature

2 responses to “Plants and Prints

  1. jan sidebotham

    What a lovely piece to read this morning. It’s the third Sunday of Advent, which is the season of waiting and hope. Your story about Murray was a way to settle my thoughts and feelings. Thank you, Jean. I’m proud to have known you as a little girl.

  2. Lori

    I share your sentiments for Murray. That aloe looks like it could make it, with a repotting, TLC, and a sunny window. Good luck!

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