Family By Joan Cusack Handler Take for instance this African Violet bl o o ming its brains out the tenth year in a row: shameless in purple— scores of furious faces & voluptuous leaves. Like me, surrounded by its family, it’s just happy here sitting in its white pot in the middle of its Family room. & like us, all our plants have had children: the pencil cactus has three, two fully grown, one toddler, the yuka, just one, the fiddle leaf ficus, false aralia & rubber more than we can count — just ridiculous in their rushtooutdo. Once upon a time a man,a woman & a boy were so delirious in love with the woods, that they wantedthemcloser, sothey built a house in the heart of the pines. Then begging the woods indulgence they asked for a few trees: a small rubber perhaps, some fern, a dracena. But these g r e w TALLer, so the man, the woman & the boy built a greenhouse, an A t r i u m at the Heart of the house: a H U G E R O O M with Skylights & Walls of Glass & old brick & lots of cold well water. Once inside the P l a n t s S t r e t c h e d O u t & Up, but complained, theylikecrowdingleavestouching,Hovering even. So the family went outside, dug pine, hemlock, flowering plum & filledtheroomtocrowding. They invited the birds: ca r d i n a l s came some b l a c k c r o w s. & they made no attempt to domesticate their trees with tea tables & wicker sofas, only a rocker or two & a small bench for the child.