weapons of mass creation

To me, gardening has always been an act of revolution. A revolt against the ten hours of desk work, the multinational food giant, soft hands, and city living. With every transplanted seedling, I am master (mistress?) of my domain. When I pop a warm, ripe backyard raspberry into my mouth, I feel like I stick it to the man, just a little bit. There are so many kinds of self-sufficiency of which I know absolutely nothing. But this I know: I can take a seed, stick it in the ground and make food come of it.

My friend Mara, whose beautiful shoe is photographed above, speaks of seeds like they are magic, music, medicine. She keeps a small vial of heirloom seeds on her and will shake them for a sort of musical meditation. Wendell Berry writes poetry about ploughing the earth. Me, I make charts. My charts tell me what seeds I have left (and how much of them) and what seeds I desire. Sometimes I'll add a picture to remind myself why "Chervena Chushka" was a must-have the last time I browsed Seed Savers catalog. I chart out an indoor starts schedule and then an outdoor starts schedule. I may even chart the planting boxes, so I can rotate a few different crops. Oh yes, spreadsheets have a poetry and music of their own - the only kind of poetry and music I can produce with wild abandon.

And yet as controlling as I am at this end of things, there always comes a point where I succumb and let the creation take over. Those rigid spring spreadsheets decompose into June's sprouts, July's entropy and August's gravity. We always, always, lose control. We enter the garden with one part intimidation and three parts glee as we stumble and bump our way around the overgrowth plucking warm tomatoes, twisting off an eggplant, bending into a carrot firmly entrenched in the soil. The dirt and toughened skin is never fully scrubbed off the hands. And you wear it like a badge of honour because it reminds you that you haven't completely lost your tie to the earth.

Sowing the seed,
my hand is one with the earth.

Wanting the seed to grow,
my mind is one with the light.

Hoeing the crop,
my hands are one with the rain.

Having cared for the plants,
my mind is one with the air.

Hungry and trusting,
my mind is one with the earth.

Eating the fruit,
my body is one with the earth.

- Wendell Berry

1 comment:

wantaknit said...

Helen -
Found your blog through FB. And this entry is so beautifully satisfying. Especially that bit about sticking it to the man by popping a backyard raspberry. Yum and...gotcha!