Sunday, March 2, 2014

Seeds of civilization

We're still up to our butts in snow here, with more coming, but today I plant the first seeds of the summer.

Peppers take their time crafting baby peppers, and given a voice, would not be here in Jersey at all.

The story of planned planting is the story of civilization, a word that evokes complex (and for me mixed) feelings. Music without guitars, foods without farms, travel without cars--for the brief times I am walking along a mud flat hunting quahogs, civilization recedes.

I will clear out a small space for my pepper plant seedlings. and kill many beings I do not see (and a few that I do) in order to create an orderly, human space for my pepper plants. We forget the inherent power of our words, our thumbs, our sheer size, as we tear up the earth for what we need, and more for what we want.

Civilization is dangerous enough when we remember our connection to the earth, when we acknowledge our limits, when we still recognize sin or hubris or whatever word you care to use that defines the moment we forget our connection to something bigger than ourselves.

Lose your land, lose your power--there are not enough mulberry trees or mud flats or dandelions to keep my family alive, so we barter our services for what we can find on the shelves of our local grocery stores. In education we sell this as career readiness, and some of us use the threat of joblessness and starvation as motivation to get a diploma.

And we wonder why so many of us are sick....

So I plant. I share seeds with others, and we plant and plant.
  • I do not want my students to topple civilization--I just want them to know that it starts in the dirt that does not recognize deeds.
  • I do not want my children to covet their neighbor's land--I just want them to realize the costs of living landless, depending on strangers for food.
  • I do not want my lambs to lack career readiness--I just want them to learn how to live once their bellies are full and the rent is paid.
I believe in the land, in the sea, in the air I breathe, and the remnants of  the Constitution of the United States. I trust the patterns of the natural world, while recognizing much of it will remain impenetrable. Most of all, I trust that the seeds I plant later today will reward me with food, and more seeds for whatever March holds for me next year.

That's why I teach.
Education exists To Serve Man?

The clams and the pepper plants will be here long after I am gone, and, if we teach our children well, so will this great land of ours.

We need to take it back.

Yes, it sounds like an idealistic dream. This country was founded on dreams.
Hops photo  from the backyard.


Kate said...

I woke today thinking of the garden. We are buried in snow and thought briefly about starting tomatoes and peppers inside this year. I would need some mechanical assistance from artificial light and heat, and I wondered if was up for that.
But the garden calls.
I still have a tree (Illinois River Birch) and shrubs (lilacs and yews) to plant this spring as well as the vegetables that remind all of us where our food comes from and how much effort it takes to yield beans over goosefoot (aka lamb's quarters) which, yes I know - that, along with the purslane, I could eat, but in the words of Bartleby the scrivener, "I would prefer not to."
So dreams of the garden, the grapes and the apples, the pears and the annuals.
They keep me going

doyle said...

Dear Kate,

Give it a try! Despite what the experts say, my tomato seedlings do fine in a very cool basement with a cheap fluorescent light set-up. I think the cool helps their root development (but I may just be imagining that).

I nibble on purslane, but then I nibble on the day lilies, too.

As bad as the weather can get (and has been) in March, the light is back!

Kate said...

Yes, the light is back. It is true. I just trudged through the new snow to the compost. I pushed aside 8 new inches of snow (not kidding), dumped the peelings from yesterday's feast for the cast and crew of the show my girls are in, and left the top off so that the squirrels could have at it.
I will nibble on the violets this year - and maybe the purslane. I have yet to acquire a taste for amaranth.
So, off to clear the back steps. And to find that seed catalog.