Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pea planting time (again)

The crocuses are back--time to plant peas again
Pea planting time again.

Much has changed, much has stayed the same. Changes at my age are often precipitous, sometimes perilous. I was never one for worshiping change.

Yesterday’s rain works its way through to my knees. The earth is pliable (again), and as I work my fingers through the dirt (again), and poke holes in the ground (again), and drop each pea, one by one, into the holes (again). I cover the peas, then get up, a little slower than I did last year, but likely a little faster than I will next year, should grace get me there.

A classroom carrot, from seed
I love teaching what matters to young folks, and what matters has not changed.
What we teach, though, has.

Soon my lambs will again push their fingers into damp peat, again plant a seed or several, but this time with the promise that their seeds, if cared for, will produce plants that will provide them with food. They will also use these same fingers to fumble their way through the PARCC these next few weeks to produce results that will provide them with, well, nothing.

For many of them, possibly most, this will be the last time they plant a seed. None of us are promised another dawn, but my students can reasonably expect 20,000 or more before they die, a bit more than me. Most of them will never hunt or forage or fish or trap or clam or grow a garden from scratch.

Dinner, caught by my daughter
I’m all for education reform, for changing a system that rewards obeisance, rewards class, rewards rote, rewards compliance. I’m not looking to raise a child to serve the global economy; I’m looking to raise a child who can maintain a homestead. The skills needed for both are mostly mutual except for a few, and it’s these few that make all the difference when planting a pea.

A good gardener solves real problems, lives in the present, is wary of new tools, knows her neighborhood, shares her bounty, and acknowledges grace. She trusts natural cycles, and recognizes death. She knows her decisions help some critters, are fatal to others. She grasps the intricate relationship between her garden and herself, and knows the health of one is tied to the health of the other.
One day last summer
I believe we’d all be better off in what’s left of our republican ways if we valued these skills at least as much as we value cheap food. The government of our land was founded on knowing, and honoring, the local, not some abstract international economy.

We're mammals of this Earth.

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