The weather has turned briefly warm so we’ve been in the garden the past two days. Yesterday we managed to prepare the beds before the heavy rains came. This morning we ran a soil test, discovered the garden is nutrient poor, and headed off to the garden store for some Earth friendly fertilizer. When we arrived they had yet to open so we went for a walk along the fast flowing river; now we are home and have gotten the early seed in the ground!
Truth be known, Jennie does most of the garden work, for which I, finding gardening increasingly exhausting, am grateful. Still, I do what I can, and usually manage to slowly build up my capacity to be useful. I have decided that gardening is an optimistic activity, an expression of trust in the generosity of Mother Earth and the resiliency of the plant world, and as such warrants every bit of effort we put into it.
It seems to me that gardening is also an act of resilience. We live in a time of eschatological foreboding and the invitation to anticipate doomsday seems difficult to resist. Gardening, if one is to derive any sustenance from it, requires a pervasive and persistent belief in the continuity of things. That trust in the future is often profoundly tested, as it was last year by months of drought, and the year previous by seemingly endless rain. Somehow the gardens survived both extremes, managing to feed us, abet at a reduced volume, through the summer and into the winter.
I have been thinking lately that our government leaders have fallen victim to the kinds of extreme eschatological expectations that catch the imaginations of nations and communities every now and then, usually during times of acute stress. This being Easter we are reminded that one such epoch found Israel desperately caught up in a dream of the coming of the Messiah and the end of the Roman occupation. That period lasted a couple of hundred years and certainly influenced Jesus’ understanding of his mission here on Earth, or, perhaps more accurately, shaped his disciples’ understanding of His life and teachings.
Another such time came in the Nineteenth Century, when many Native tribes began to practice the Ghost Dance. The Ghost Dance arose as part of Indian prophetic tradition and envisioned a time when Indian peoples would be taken into the sky, a vast hole would open in the Earth and swallow the European colonists, and after the world was restored, Native people would be returned to the life they had long-lived.
As you might imagine, the colonists did not particularly cotton to this vision and set about ruthlessly suppressing the Ghost Dance and those who practiced it. From my vantage point, 150 years later, I wonder whether the colonists were afraid God might just be on the other side given Jesus most likely would not have supported the ongoing genocide that was, and seemingly remains, at the very heart of the American Enterprise.
Anyway, here we are in 2017, with a government led by folks who appear to follow a sort of cargo cult dedicated to creating the conditions for the End Time. Environmental collapse, economic chaos, and even thermonuclear warfare are apparently seen by them as acceptable avenues towards their end goal. Now I must acknowledge that as someone not drawn to their particular form of eschatological belief, I find myself rather puzzled by the gusto with which they pursue their vision. Given their behavior over the past fifty years (or five hundred years), one would think they would want to put off any final accounting for as long as possible. But then, that’s just my view.
All that said, I am enjoying sitting in the swing we returned to the front porch this morning, watching the clouds drift across the sky, and basking in the early spring warmth. We know that come tomorrow the cold will return, along with occasional showers, perfect weather for those early season crops we put in this morning. Looking over the garden I am left with a sense of accomplishment and an abiding faith in the capacity of Nature, and the human spirit, to persist. I imagine that come fall, we will look back on our efforts today with appreciation and a bit of pride, even as we take time to dream about next year’s garden. This makes a lovely, optimistic, seasonal round, eh?
By the way, if you want to help you can grab a rake; the perennial beds desperately need to be cleaned.