Thursday, July 04, 2013

Lessons From Things That Grow

Here it's been another awfully long pause since I've been flinging words around in this space, but there is something in me that keeps coming back. The urge to write. To throw the ends of threads out there and see if they stick to anything long enough to weave a web.

These days, the insects hum in and about the squash plants, and I read about how there are two kinds of vegetable blooms, male and female. Tiny beees flit from one to the other, dragging pollen on their miniscule, hairy legs, making fertilization possible, and therefore produce. I love that the creatures - so focused on their own, singular goal to work - end up creating food for other species. In the grand sceheme of things, so much is seemingly inadvertent and yet fruitful, essential. Could it be that this is a lesson for us humans? Throw your whole soul and body into that thing that drives you - and bear fruit and honey in your wake, almost unwittingly? This has got to be humility in some form or another. Good things, tossed off in the pursuing.

Tiny things, that take time to grow. Broccoli, for instance, takes a long season. I read the seed packet. 72 days from germination to maturation. I watch excitedly as the leaves pop up full and lush, and then there they stop, all of a sudden. It is as if the whole plant were on pause, but it is not. The action is inside, below the surface, and soon I begin to see evidence of this as a familiar shape pops up from the top of the stem a few laborious weeks later. Finally. I breathe.

Some things in the garden do not require the same kind of patience, and thank goodness. I'm not built for it as a human, it seems. It must take practice. And in the meantime, we get French breakfast radishes - "les radis" that we fell in love while scouring the Paris markets for new tastes and smells and sights all those years ago. Now we grow them on our home turf. We brought the memories home, but they are not statically nostalgic - no! They root, they grow, we feed on them. But only for a very short season, and then it's on to the sweet peas.

And speaking of the past let's reach further back for a moment and go to the very beginning. In the beginning were the woods. And the little house. A boxer puppy. A mom, a dad, a little girl, a baby on the way. A little path that ran nearby still skirts the property, and recently I take my very youngest brother - who knew nothing of this place except what we had told him in bits and pieces - and showed him the stretch of land we called home for a little while. The coniferous tree in front has had its splendid lower branches trimmed clean off, so my tent-like fort isn't there anymore. But it doesn't bother me like it used to, the way things change. After all, we have new dwelling to inhabit.

Mulberries grow at the new place. That symbol of renewed love of place, of found food, of family-as-friends. The neighbor who shares our property line with us (and therefore the fledging mulberry tree) was surprised to hear us sing its edible praises, but he acquiesced to leaving it stuck in the fence when I assured him I'd care for it. It's the only tree we've got so far, after all. You've got to start a garden with something, even if it's a brushy mess. We can care for it as we go on, don't worry. He left it in my hands. Thank goodness for such understanding neighbors.

Like the sparrows, we swoop down - in the cool of morning and evening - to feast here and there on this and that from the land. Summer has arrived, in full bloom.


Henry said...

The sweetness of the seasons and the richness of eternity. Spellbound in the wonder of His handiwork. Love, Dad

Joyfulartist said...

It was so good to see you, I'm sorry I didn't say a proper good-bye before being called to the phone.
I love your pictures of growing things. Beware of cabbage moths laying eggs on your broccoli; the little green worms that hatch are very hard to see so don't be freaked out when they come to the top of the boiling water you cook your broccoli in. :-)