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Learning the Personalities of Plants

The wisdom, comfort, and health that come from deeply knowing your relatives

Illustration of plant with eyes

Eyes by Beata Kruszynski

Where my family is from in northern New Mexico, the intermarriage between the Pueblo tribes with the Spanish and Mexican people resulted in a tri-culture unique to the central Rio Grande Valley. As I grew up I learned that my people’s songs, dances, and foods were often celebrated and kept alive by disguising them and marrying them into Catholic and Spanish traditions. Over the years I have been working to reconnect with the original languages and dances of my Indigenous ancestors, but mostly, because I am a chef, I work to tell those stories through my recipes.Many years ago, an elder explained to me something that I knew innately: that plants are our relatives. Each one has a family, a personality, and a purpose—just like us. I loved the way the elders and teachers would talk about plants.“Don’t give that plant too much water, or he’ll get mad.”“Pick this herb in the morning, when she’s fresh and awake.”These relationships made me curious, so I decided to learn more about the personalities of the plants that I grew up with. I prayed to these plant relatives, asking them for guidance as I started on my …

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