I tend to wander away from the monitor once the sun heads north. In January puny words sustain me--in April germinating seeds do. I will become more scarce here as the sun arcs higher in the sky.
Leslie and I wandered along the edge of the world again today--a small flock of loons hunting by the ferry jetty called to each other. A bit later, a crow grumbled at us as we approached.
Crows never grumble at us in February.
Not so long ago I caught one of my students artistically applying ink to a mailbox, which would be fine if the mailbox was his. It is not.
I live in the same town I work, which is unusual these days in north Jersey, so reporting the child to the authorities was not in anyone's best interests.
Not saying I did, not saying I didn't.
Yesterday I planted basil and zinnias and oregano and cosmos. Today I put some garlic cloves in the ground. Tomorrow I'll plant more tomatoes or maybe peppers, egg plants or maybe nicotianas, who knows.
I'll run out off ground long before my interest wanes.
My neighbors mostly plant grass. Not the good kind like wheat or oats or corn. Kentucky blue grass (which would be interesting if it were truly blue). Chewings fescue. Bermudagrass. All clipped before they give off a hint of sexuality.
Straight. Green. Inedible.
At least I can eat my dandelions and wild purslane.
Should the authorities wish to pursue my graffiti artist, he may pay a fine. He may spend some time in the youth house. It will cost money, my money, and not much gets solved.
I have a better idea. I am short of land, but not of seeds.
Guerrilla gardening is like graffiti, except it results in something useful.
Find a piece of land, and surreptitiously plant something. In these parts, think Indian. Corn, pumpkin, squash, blueberries, beans, sunflower--these were all here before the Europeans came.
The Europeans destroyed a lot of things, but they have yet to destroy the climate. (Give us credit, though, we're working on it.) If you plant a pumpkin in New Jersey, it will grow. So will a sunflower or a bean or a blueberry bush. They will grow if loved, but better yet, they will grow if neglected.
Pick a property with an absentee owner. We have plenty here in Bloomfield.
Plant a pumpkin seed.
The child gets to buck the system. The neighborhood gets a few pumpkins. Passers-by get a chance to smile at a misplaced sign that God loves us even when we're not kneeling in a pew.
I know that God or nature or life or whatever you want to call all this matters, and I know I cannot understand any of it. That's as much as I know anything, and it's enough.
We plant seeds in the classroom, and they grow. The children are amazed, as they should be. (I am amazed, too, every time it happens, as I should be.)
I do not, of course, advise my students to break the law. I do not push them into lives of crime, sowing illicit vegetables around town.
Still, John Chapman is one of my few heroes, and I would be proud if one of my students emulated him.