Will that tree fit in the overhead bin?

"You're not going to take those plants, are you?" asked my husband. I wasn't stealing them; they were table decorations - and gifts - at a banquet we were attending. Better yet, they were unusual azaleas, not yet released to the public. What gardener could resist? Not I.

The reason my husband was surprised - although he shouldn't have been after all the years we've been married - was that we were flying home.

I didn't see that as a drawback at all. Over the years I have perfected the art of flying with flowers - and shrubs and trees and houseplants and ... well, if someone gives it to me and it's green and growing, I will get it home safely.

I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm one of those people who schlep mountains of carry-ons to stuff into airplanes' overhead bins. In fact, I rarely have more than a book - except when I'm sorely tempted.

Earlier this month I learned that my plants and I are part of a trend. The Federal Aviation Administration told airlines to increase their estimated weight of each suitcase and each passenger - plus carry-ons.

As vacation season begins, probably more of us would do well to follow the example of someone I know who lays out what she wants to take on a trip - and then packs only half of it.

I admire such self-restraint, but haven't been able to emulate it. As I get out my suitcase, I think: Maybe it will rain. (I toss in an umbrella.) If it rains, it may get cooler. (In goes a jacket.) In that case, I had better have both long- and short-sleeve blouses, shorts and slacks.

Pretty soon, I have all the comforts of home with me - right down to the plants. I wonder if we've been subverted by that commercial - "Don't leave home without it"?

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