On Terrariums 

Irish moss in the front, random moss growing in yard toward back.

Terrariums are fascinating to me. I love the earth, the green, the self-contained little life they have. 

Back before my father died in 2001, I had a 10-gallon aquarium that had (through a fluke) became a terrarium. The moss inside of it started to grow up the back wall and to keep it, but not under foot, I gave it to my dad. He had a sunroom off his house that plants LOVED. 

I can still remember the scent of the porch, and smell it now if I take a deep breath. A scent I might not be able to describe right. It was warm, with a hint of age. Not the plants, not dirt. No. The scent that makes me think of my grandmother and grandfather. There were old stacks of aged paper magazines, old walking carts sitting to the side, waiting to be used to carry groceries in. Metal with a  blue and green plasticky material. Old chairs sat in there unused, a small old metal wash tub next to the door where the mail gathered after the mailman put it through the slot. 

When he did, occasionally you grabbed hold of the crystal (diamond looking) doorknob and opened the door that sometimes needed a good jerk and crack sound before it gave way. Too much paint, too much weather elements. Then you’d peek out around the doorjamb, bend down and raise the lid on the old insulated metal milk bottle dropoff box to see if there were packages. 

Once again you’d  find yourself in the old ancient sunroom carpeted with just a threadbare berber carpeting. Old pastic lawn ornaments’d be hanging out in the corner, dusty old work boots as well. Aged brown leather unusuable and crinkling. All those and more combined in that room so that there was a mustiness sure, but a pleasant one. An aged warm room that was long-filled with memories and combining into a pleasant soft odor. It always made me think of my grandma. 

I figured the terrarium would be good there. It’d fit amongst all the tall, short, wide, and pointy plants my dad had in that room amongst all the rest of the stuff he never touched. 

That small 10-gallon terrarium reminded me of my dad’s ball terrarium that he had for as long as I could remember. Maybe the size of a beachball, it was clear (aged murky clear, but still fairly clear if you put your face close enough), and he’d placed moss inside, small ferns, and I can’t remember what else. Mostly moss. I imagine he is the reason I grew my own fondness for moss. 
And . . . my fondness for terrariums. Not these fancy new ones, but the simplified classic jurassic parky-ish ones. Rustic, real, dirty. 

As a kid, I remember thinking things lived inside. It always changed too. Maybe one day I was sure it was a lizard, another a little fairy creature. I always loved just plastering my face as close as possible and trying to discover all the wondrous things to find. My adult brain just remembers moss. Just lots and lots of moss. Maybe 1/4 of the bottom, or even 1/3 was dirt and moss. There was a small hand-sized circular hole at the top for opening and working on it, and it hung from an old hemp string hanger that the ball sat in. Can’t think of the term for them. 

Unfortunately, when my father passed, my mom and aunt cleaned up all that stuff, and my aunt pitched all his things. Later she told me had I wanted to keep anything of his things, I should’ve come and got the items. I was incredulous because I was never told until after that her whole plan was to dump everything. I’d been dealing with my father’s death, I didn’t think I had to concern myself with rushing to grab everything out of his home. Nobody had said a word about those things, and I was blindsided after the fact. So I ended up losing my own terrarium, as well as his. 

That hasn’t stopped me from craving one. Or attempting to start another. some years ago I tried. The trick is finding an item to house it that will allow enough moisture that you shouldn’t have to water it, or do anything but monitor and enjoy the habitat. 

Recently (about a week ago) I found some moss (my Doberman pup loves to tear it off the roots I’m growing it on in the backyard) that I just loved the look of. The tiny fronds coming off the main plant made me think of the prehistoric plants one may see in movies or illustrations of that time period (little in love w dinosaurs :p) so I ended up keeping it in my hand. Of course Mila, my Dobe pup, kept trying to grab it. She loves moss too much. Saving it from scissor mouth, I came into the house and tried to look for something to use. 

That’s when I saw this marshmallow cream jar I had. Here is what I see at night. 

Fits perfectly on my light – the spiral bound at the side is yet another story idea I’m playing with

I plan to paint the top white or black so it blends with the flameless candles in the background, or the lamp itself and isn’t as standoutish as the blue, but for now it’s fine. 

Noticed tonight it’s building up a good amount of moisture. I turn it every night or so to make sure the moss gets equal light. 

Going good so far. 

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