...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


laughter in the garden

My friend Zee (here too, she has two blogs!)
 made this and sent it to me a few summers ago. 

I promptly tacked it up in our garden shed, for inspiration,
but it also evokes major nostalgia for me.

  It takes me back to my grandmother...

 My father's mother

who could warble like the birds when she whistled,
and played piano by ear (I loved her boogie woogie!).

She was quite a woman, in my eyes.
A great grandmother, for sure.  

She knew every recipe by heart,
scratch-cooked everything,
and she put up as much of the harvest as she could manage.  

Her gardens seemed to go on forever to my child-eyes,
Her flower gardens (she called them posies)
rivaled her vegetable gardens.

I have fond memories of helping her,
of sitting at her picnic table with buckets,
snapping the ends off green beans,
whistling while we worked.
She had a few apple trees, too.
When I ran barefoot across the fields, 
occasionally I stepped (ouch!) on a dropped apple
that rolled away, apples that would have otherwise ended up 
in applesauce or boiled down into apple butter.

(Mmmmmn, how I looooooove apple butter!)
Her root cellar was more modest than this one,
a bit cramped, down in a tiny basement 
that my grandfather had dug out to house the big coal furnace.
The shelves he built for her canned goods
were behind the narrow stairs.  

It was both frightening and fascinating to go down those stairs by myself as a child,
with all the creepy groaning sounds the furnace might suddenly make
and the massive pile of black coal looming to the right side...

Turning the corner to those gleaming glass jars was always a relief to me.

I can only imagine how my great-grandfather felt...
A coal-miner, descending into total darkness, deep into the earth, every day.
Gives me the absolute shivers.
When my grandfather died in 2005 
we found peaches my grandmother had canned 
probably 15 years prior (she died in 1992).

He kept them on the shelves all those years,
 didn't have the heart to eat them or to compost them
even after they were clearly past their eating prime.

Something about those jars on the shelves 
that hold a link
to time, place, and people.

They hold love and the energy of light from the sun,
the energy of the person who picked, peeled, and processed them.

Spring, summer, fall, winter.

A year in a basket, 
a year in a jar.

The more I think about it, 
really, each fruit and vegetable 
holds so much more than a year's work.

More than the planning, the sowing, tending, harvesting, storing/processing.
More than even that.

Each fruit and vegetable holds more years than we can fathom.
Decades.  Lifetimes.  Generations.  Eons.
Our great-grandmother's great-grandmother's great-grandmother's 
(or great-grandfather's)
and on and on and on.

Each plant, each seed,
has an energetic thread that takes it all the way back through time,
and projects it into the future.
Seeds must go back to the beginning.

I bet there are some smartypants plant people out there
who could tell you so many precise facts about all of these things, 
and I could look them up and regurgitate them to you...
Where the first vegetable and fruit seeds came from and 
when we started cultivated food 
rather than foraging and gathering...

When canning first came about, 
lacto-fermentation, sugar or salt-curing, etc.
and other historic methods of food preservation...
All of which fascinate me, and all of which deserve their own posts, 
no doubt.

But to sum it all up,
I think seeds are both the history 
and evolution 
of sustenance and life.

Plain and simple.

As intricate and amazing
as the cosmos

as beautiful 
as my grandmother's warbling whistle

as vital 
as her hard-working hands 
dancing across those keys.

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