You, O venerable one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, because, in striving for your goal, there are many things that you don't see, even though they are right in front of your eyes.” Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Seeds of Faith or Little Things DO Matter
This year was the year that I thought about the fable of the grasshopper and the ant. As children, many a story in varying versions are told about preparation and the value of hard work. Growing up in the midwestern states of America, this story had a very tangible feel, because of our winters, being generally very unforgiving and bitterly cold. My grandfather hunted deer in the northern woods of Minnesota, no so much for sport, but because they actually ate what they killed. I heard stories of the "old country" and it always puzzled me, what was this "old country" I had heard so much about. Though I was surrounded by multiple European and Scandinavian languages we weren't encouraged to learn those tongues, but to stick with our assimilation into American culture. We were the new generation and old ways were for other times, or so was the thinking of that time. Whether I wanted to think of it or not, my existence was produced by war. The emigration of my maternal great-grandparents was the direct result of the encroachment of the Russians into Finland. My grandmother's family had emigrated from Sweden. Meanwhile on my father's side of the family, they had steadily migrated towards the mid-section of the country after initially settling in Pennsylvania coming from France and Ireland with many a passionate love story in the mix as I traced my family tree all the way back to the 1500s. My father had been traumatized during the Vietnam war, the sixth child of 13 children, yet, he was the first born son, and a spoiled child, he was used to being the center of attention. That somehow did not translate well into military service for him. The odds of my parents meeting seemed almost astronomical to me. However, that is the nature of life. For my son, when he thinks about it one day, his own story, it gets even more bizarre that his American parents would come from two very different backgrounds to meet in the United Kingdom, where he would himself be born where a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty resided in from of the hospital. Significant only because his father was born in New York City where the larger version resides. None of it planned in some sort of self aware fashion, but seemingly purposeful, as if each life is no accident, no matter how random it appears.
So this year, in a very random fashion, I planted my first garden. In a chaotic rendition, I started with just seeds and started seedlings in April and nurtured them, watered them and bravely started to set them out as winter faded away, covering them at night and wondering if I knew what I was doing, but trusting my instincts along the way. I trusted the earth, the sun, the rains, and pulled up a lot of weeds to prepare the soil to receive these new children. I gently removed them from the garden boxes and transplanted them and still, I felt like I didn't know what I was doing, only vaguely having an idea that if I just did it, it would just happen. The roots took hold and the soil was turned and I would just have a go at it.
There wasn't a real plan. I grew a little bit of this, that and the other, mislaid my labels and finally felt that I was just at the mercy of the fates. There was an orderly chaos of rows of this, that, and the other to just became a garden that I visited every morning and sunset to take stock of how they were doing in the elements. I wondered at times if they were receiving too much rain, if the hail was killing them, if the sun was scorching them, and if they were being devoured by pestilence. Still, I was determined to run a course of non-interference with pesticides. No traps for gophers or rabbits, and I pulled up weeds and moved some of them around with some measure of hesitation. I realized my not having any idea of what I was doing was quite possibly my greatest asset because I wasn't afraid to try.
They are flourishing. Lush bean stalks, peas that flowered and have vines that formed arms to link up to each other to grab life. On days that I watered them, I noticed how they just bounced with life. Whereas if you have seen a wilted plant that was devoid of life, the leaves seem flatter, something is lacking and in spite of its greenness, you could tell that life was no longer within those plants.
This season has been a pleasure to explore and create something tangible as the broad pumpkin leaves spread. I think about the journey, and it's not that I can't wait for the harvest, it's not really what was the important part of the lesson. The important part of the lesson was that all life is really about the small things that grow into the larger things. Oh, it was just a seed, placed into soil. A seed, that doesn't seem important at least not until they are given favorable conditions to grow.
Somehow, my garden, this little plot of land, has made me think about the miracle of life, it's fragile points, and it's durability. In some ways the chaos that I look at, made me appreciate the act of just doing without premeditation, yet trusting all of my imperfect actions. Perhaps that is what a real organic garden is; a mere reflection of the type of person I am.