Monday, May 21, 2012

A story about basil

Last August, various bees sniffed among our basil flowers, seeking nectar.

Pollen grains stuck to their fuzzy bodies, which they carried to nearby plants and half the chromosomes of one plant joined with those of another. Not sure if the bees or the basil felt anything special, but these acts of communion give me joy.

The fertilized flowers dropped their show-offy petals, their opulence no longer needed once the union was complete, and the flowers got down to the business of making seeds.

Come fall, after the first hard frost, I stripped the dried flowers from their stalks.

In idle moments, I'd unwrap the seeds from the dried flowers, tiny hard black secrets holding next spring's promise.

I gently blow the chaff away from the seeds, and put them away in a small brown bag, tucked in the pantry, hundreds of living organisms, dormant, waiting for the sunlight.

Back in March, when the sun was just starting to win its battle with the dark, I sprinkled a few seeds on a tray of peat moss. Tiny green leaves erupted.

A week or so ago, we put our seedling in the ground, and they've been busy using the sun's energy to grab carbon dioxide from the air, to make more leaves.

Last night we ate the first of this year's batch, as we will, grace willing, until the next hard frost come November.

I am getting older, as we all are, but not the basil, living a lifetime between frosts.

And if there's a point to the story, to our story, we can find it in the basil.

We just have to look.

No point trying to grasp the intricacies of photosynthesis if you cannot see the flowers.


Unknown said...

It never ceases to amaze me that the pesto we eat comes from our back yard. The fact that I'm amazed probably says something about urbanization.

We've probably consumed more of it than one should consume in a lifetime.

doyle said...

Dear John,

I still am amazed, every day. Every day. I suspect farmers feel this, too.

Not sure it's possible too consume too much pesto. I bet I'm a few hundred thousand leaves ahead of you (but I have a 2 or 3 decade head start).