Saturday, October 23, 2010

Picking basil seeds in October

Spent a good chunk of the afternoon collecting basil seeds. Spring is less than 5 months away.

My basil never dies. I eat the leaves, true, but not so many that they do not flower. Bees steal a little nectar, dragging basil sperm around with them, pollinating flower after flower after flower.

And now I take each dried flower, tiny as they are, and strip out a few seeds from each, black dots not much larger than the period at the end of this sentence.

And each one of them is alive.

Late February, when the darkness has reduced me to a nervous psoriatic shell, I will plant them. I will not remember the sweet smell of basil as I picked at the dried fruit today. I do not have that kind of imagination. But I will smile anyway. I do have that kind of hope.

You can, of course, buy seeds, and avoid the "tedium" of manual labor. I love Pinetree Seed Company.

I sat on our back stoop, bent over my bag of dried flowers, stripping seed after seed, and my hands were happy.

My hands go back millions of years, my fingers a few hundred thousand. Fingers were meant for picking. I pick my guitar, I get music. I pick basil pods, I get seeds. I do both under the open sky, and both give me joy.

Time dissolved as the sun slowly crept across the sky--my hands picked and picked as my grandmother's had, as my great great grandfather's had, as some hirsute hominid did on a continent an ocean away did a hundred thousand years ago.

A honey bee harassed me for a few minutes, obviously drawn by the wafting basil oils. I explained to her that she was wasting her time, but she kept buzzing around my hands anyway. A cozy of cosmos waved just ten feet away, but she wanted to get inside the bag of dried flowers.

She has been evolving her sense of smell as long as I have been evolving fingers that need to pick. I'm sure our ancestors met before as I am sure our descendants will meet again.

Neither of us did much to help raise the GNP today, though I bet she did more than I did. All economies ultimately rise or fall on how much biomass we can raise from the ground.

On a very local level, the honeybee and I share a gift. We both hum from energy emanating from the sun captured by the basil.

And on a beautiful October afternoon, with sharp shadows reminding both the bee and me that the darkness is coming, we both felt joy.

The pictures are all from today. What a spectacularly gorgeous day here at the shore.
In Heaven as it is on Earth. We are truly of the land, nefesh, and all that. Just ask the bee.


Mary Ann Reilly said...

Pretty amazing the part about the basil seed. You must post images of the plants as they grow. The squirrels ate two large basil plants I had growing on a stoop:(

doyle said...

Dear Mary Ann,

A squirrel ambled by as I was picking at the seeds. I was barely moving, my head hunched over as though in prayer, and I guess I was.

I did not notice the squirrel, it did not notice me. I shifted positions, the squirrel jumped straight up, scared the snot out of me, and I jumped as well.

It jumped onto a tree no more than a few feet from me, and turned to face me. It chattered vociferously, and I chattered back. I told Mr. Squirrel that I would leave his acorns alive if he would leave my basil alone.

I should have taken some pictures today. Maybe tomorrow.

momomom said...

After being fooled 3 times by squirrel chatter I recently recognized it and didn't spend a long time looking for the mytery "bird".