This Thing Called Courage

Monday, March 06, 2006

STARTED TODAY






How is it that a dried up, shrivelly-looking thing-- the thing we call a seed-- can be added to dirt, watered, and then by and by turn into a giant six-foot plant with hundreds of flowers producing hundreds of thousands of seeds-- all ina few months' time? I'm speaking specifically of Nicotiana grandiflora alata (Old Fashioned Flowering Tobacoo), one of the most fragrant p[lants int eh garden, a night-bloomer-- but really I'm speaking of all plants. What kind of miracle is this? And what is dirt anyway, one of the three necessary ingredients to make the magic happen? I read this article one time that said that dirt is star dust. Literally. While a good part of dirt's make-up is decomposed leaves and grasses and other organic matter, the base ingredient is millions of years' accumulation of dust, the same dust you see in a sunbeam-- matter drifting in the atmosphere that comes down from 'outer space,' the debris of asteroids and exploded suns and what have you. One of the misfotunes of modern times is the difficulty one generation has in understanding the next, for the simple reason that technology whirls us along at such blinding speed that lives changes so much. What would my great-grandfather-- a farmer in Castlemartyr, County Cork-- make of cell phones, Ipods, Tivo, dvd players, computers, instant messaging, faxing, wide-screen televisions, jet-plane travel, cars, and all the other trappings of modern one we feel we couldn't live without? And that's only three generations before my own-- for tens of thousands of years, life didn't change very much-- if at all-- from one generation to the next.

But planting seeds is timeless. When I am engaged in this activity, I feel like I'm stepping into this ancient, sacred circle, of the millions who have done this before me. We open the earth, plant our seeds, water, then wait, looking at the sky, hoping for sunshine and rain in happy alternating sequences. The whole is so much more than the sum of the parts. It's nothing short of miraculous. While it's just about time to plant peas, spinach, and other cold-loving crops outdoors, one can't sow the tneder plants until late May around these parts-- so many people start them indoors to get a jump start. Sure, there are lots of seedlings available from the different nurseries that one could buy come planting time in May, but there's something wonderful about tsrating your own-- being there at the birthing, as it were. To me it's like having your child dropped at your door when he or she is five or six years old. Plus by starting your own, the selection is much broader in terms of availability. It's safe to say that everything I started today is not available as a seedling at most if not all nurseries.
This is what I started today: (see above for pics)



Morning Glory 'Picotee' (the blue one)



Zinnia 'Envy' (the chartreuse one)

Stock (an intensely fragrant, old fashiopned flower-- the pinkish one

Datura meteloides (Angel Trumpet-- a rare yellow variety) and...


Vanilla Ice Sunflower (the yellow and white one).

I will keep you posted!!!

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