I have to think of this current political, bigoted, ego-inflated madness as just another growing season--albeit, one especially fraught with mites, cutworms, squash borers, cucumber beetles, cabbage moths, mosquitoes, ticks, and blackflies. Oh, hell. Let's throw in the brown-tailed moths, too, while we're at it.
Those things suck. They're a royal pain in the seat of my favorite ten-year-old gardening jeans, and they almost drive you mad with their whining, biting, and seemingly bulletproof immunity against anything from weather to neem oil to falling temperatures to pure farmer-fury. Yes. They suck. And the only thing for it is to pull on the dorky mosquito netting (again) and go about the business of living, swatting, and counting small victories.
But here's the thing, Petals: their season is a hell of a lot shorter than ours. We are savvier, healthier, and bigger, goddammit, than those bloodsuckers and we have outlasted worse summers than this. The frost is coming and...
Gardening is all about vigilance and maintaining a buoyant sense of (strictly maintained) lighthearted wonder. Super easy with the first tiny green tomatoes, the first squash blossoms, the twentieth head of lettuce, leaf of kale.
Not so easy rooting out squash vine borers (none here, knock wood), pulling hornworms, yanking slugs, earwigs, or coming across the heartbreaking evidence of fungus, blossom rot, or watering at dawn to the whine of mosquitoes.
But there has to be that maintenance of equilibrium--this is life, after all. It can go spectacularly well, spectacularly wrong, or it can spectacularly flatline. Despite all of that, our tasks are the same, the garden's needs are the same; the schedule must be kept, the routine upheld, rain, sun, heat, wind, bugs, larvae, all of it.
It can all be overcome, but dear Demeter, Artemis, and all the goddesses, does it take time. That's the thing that drags us down--not the disappointment, not the struggle, not the occasional unfortunate disc...
We will, I think, be best served in our ongoing struggle to be truly and honestly represented, to be safe, to have long life, and to secure long life for those who come after if we could only, every single one of us, come back to the earth.
On this July 4th, I will get down on my knees in the dirt, and tip my well-worn sunhat to Thomas Jefferson:
"[C]ultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. they are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, & they are tied to their country & wedded to its liberty & interests by the most lasting bands." ~ Paris Aug. 23. 1785
I find wind either refreshing or downright torturous, depending on the temperature, the task, visibility/ice conditions, and gale force. The thing is, wind gives you nowhere to hide; it seeks out your secrets, your weaknesses, and (given the right circumstances) can cut anyone to the quick of their tolerance level.
In other words, you learn a lot about the company you keep (yourself included) when faced with blocks to walk (or hours to sail) in wind-chilled conditions.
It's a pretty accurate, rather humbling, litmus test to scope the depth of your own well of compassion.
I welcome spring with the first tick-ticking of the snowmelt, the first scent of earth exhaling, the first dig in the garden, but then, around late April, start to regret that unrestrained welcome.
You see, I'm a tidy person, an organized person. I don't mind mess, but I really, really want to be able to clean it up in an hour or two, a day at the most. But the spring melt? The mess of fallen branches, last season's leaves which went un-raked before the first snow, the bittersweet vine that *still* insists on choking the fence, the lawn that has yet to be replaced by garden, the fall debris that, for whatever reason, escaped my notice six months ago--all of that lies in wait under stubborn, unmelted winter.
And I know, I *know,* that I'll have to clean it up. It's just who I am, and sometimes just knowing that has me wishing for one more big snowfall.
But that's the thing right? Another snow just pushes back the inevitable. Ignorance of what lies beneath is not cleanline...
I'm all about using what's on hand for, well, anything. I have this stubborn conviction that everything I need to solve a particular dilemma is either right in front of me, or else tucked away in my cellar, my closets, my kitchen. It's not so much that I'm industrious, per se, (although I'd like to think I am), but that I'm lazy about researching and loathe to buy anything cheap and/or slated to last for a season at best.
This inherent distrust of convenience, of cheapness is all well and good, of course, and even healthy. But without the resources to invest in worthwhile tools (shoes, trowels, clothing, suits, luggage--whatever), sometimes convenience becomes a necessity.
I know that, but still I hate caving (even typing that capitulation...grr). I'd still rather slap a wheelbarrow together with old plywood and a wheel from a defunct lawnmower than go buy one. (I actually wish I could do that, but I think it would end in disaster...). Maybe it's a desire for self-sufficiency...
There is nothing simpler, I don't think, than the concept of feeding that which feeds us as often as possible. Leave the tree as it falls, let it feed the beings whose incredible job it is to take hardwood to compost. Let the birds feast on those beings, let the mosses come after. Let this forest regenerate the only way it knows how--regifting life from inevitable decay.
What we grow, what we care for, what we cultivate, be it animal, vegetable, or mineral is a sacred act of sacrifice. Not on our part, not really, but on the part of the being that dies so that we may live.
That is an act of absolute, unconditional love and faith, no matter whether your sacrifice of the day is a bean plant's fruit or an egg or an entire chicken.
If you do it right, that being has only one bad day in its entire life.
If you do it right, this being feels of service and we feel humbled by mutual sacrifice.
Everywhere, in every tier of life, something dies so that something else may live--mice to snakes, mosquitoes to bats, rabbits to owls, plants to deer, deer to coyote. It's a balance, and to upset that unduly is to announce transparently that we are en route to our own extinction.