Wednesday, December 26, 2018

100 Seeds: It Always Ends in Flowers

Usually at this time of the year, I make a list of one hundred New Year’s Resolutions. Some are grand ambitions like becoming more fit, saving pots of money, or deep-cleaning the house. Maybe it’s as small as writing a letter to a faraway friend. There are often several garden resolutions on my list, and almost every year I vow to plant more edibles. I try, but it always ends in flowers. I spread the seed catalogues over the table, and become seduced by the glossy photos of liatris, sweet peas, zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers. Sure, I end of buying seeds for beans, peas, and pumpkins, but I almost always end of giving them away because I run out of room and the flowers take up every nook and cranny of our back yard. I would love to have the space to plant a giant Victory Garden for bees, with space for herbs, veggies, cultivated and native flowers, but that’s not in the foreseeable future. I’ll have to plant more metaphorical seeds before I sow those future seeds. I’ve got to play the long game. 

Yesterday, a family member noticed that we’ve had such a mild winter here in Vancouver that the bulbs are coming up earlier than ever. “Such a relief to know that there’s nothing we can do to control the weather.” I guess that’s what the climate change deniers tell themselves, comforting themselves with the idea that whatever we do, the weather has a destiny of its own. That’s one narrative. Another narrative that’s making its rounds in the news headlines is we have twelve years to act before climate change becomes irreversible. So as we make our “to do” lists, bucket lists, and resolutions, we need to think about the steps we can take and the seeds we can plant to help heal the damage we are doing to the earth and prevent catastrophic repercussions of our actions.

All this fear of the damage we do to our environment can become overwhelming and numbing. This has been a year where I must admit I turned off the news more times than before because it’s just so bleak. It’s also been a hard year for me personally, with the loss of my father and a host of family problems that need emotional triage. I’m so thankful for a group of friends and family who have been quietly and steadfastly supporting me along this rocky path, planting seeds of kindness that have helped me cope and do the work I love so much. My own pain has not made me blind to the pain everyone around me has also been experiencing. We are collectively experiencing anxiety, uncertainty and feelings of helplessness. More than ever, we need to acknowledge our collective maladies and pull together to find solutions that help the global village.

My sister in law gave me a package of liatris seeds for Christmas. Lord knows, I love liatris, aka blazing star. They're one of my favorite bee plants. I’ve never grown them from see because they are so easy to start from corms. But there’s always something so inspiring about growing a complex bee-feeding organism from a seed that’s smaller than the head of a pin. It’s all about acquiring deep knowledge of that plant and being its midwife and vigilant steward. It’s about playing the long game. And when someone gives you seeds, that means you have a responsibility to find a place for them in your world. It’s a gift, but also a call to action. It’s like your ancestor is tapping you on the shoulder and telling you to get busy and start gardening, whether you believe you can change the weather or not. The best things in life are seeds. Let’s share them, plant them, and help them grow. Let's treat each other with the same careful stewardship and vigilance as our seeds.