Our seeds are spread across the dining room table. Packets and packets of garden seeds — some still good, some long past their prime, but I am loath to let them go. Because, where would they go if not into the rich soil beneath my bare feet? I could feed them to the grumpy winter chickens. I could dump them in the frozen woods. I could let my children play with them and plant them in pots and get their hands all dirty and see what might come up.
I ask a farmer friend what he does with his leftover seeds. “Do you save them?” I ask.
“Some,” he answers. “But not the alliums.”
“Oh yes,” I say. “We learned that the hard way. Last year hardly half of our onions came up. The seeds were old. Too old.”
It just begs the question: how long does a seed last? An onion seed. A carrot seed. The seed of an idea in my soul. How long can I keep it in the dark?
The highlight of our little getaway for Wallace was watching the cranes outside our hotel room window!
The tropical greenhouse at the Frederik Meijer Gardens is like balm for the January soul. We could have stayed inside all day.
My dream mini greenhouse!
The only thing they would have changed about visiting the conservatory? Being allowed to explore in bare feet!
I rummaged around in a box of hand-me-downs, looking for a swim suit for Wallace just before we walked out the door to leave for Grand Rapids. When Jeff looked in my bag, he asked, “What is this smurf costume doing in here?”
We’ve gathered around for our annual Calendula Salve making this afternoon!
This year we’re making lip balm with petals we’ve been soaking in olive oil since the end of the summer. The magic of summer sunshine preserved as golden goodness pulls us all into the kitchen. Each year the girls do more and more on their own. I find myself mostly watching and soaking up the wonder of this messy, rich process.
“I salute you!
There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
No peace lies in the future, which is not hidden in this present instant.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy.
And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.”
— Fra Giovanni, AD 1513 (Take Joy! The Tasha Tudor Christmas Book)
The sun today
brings us outside
into the garden
to plant bulbs
and dream —
just for a moment,
Rilke’s famous words to his 19-year old protege in 1903:
“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
So dark all day. So dark at 5 pm. Lots of talk about dark. I’m more comfortable going out into the dark now.
To Know the Dark
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
“The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry,” Counterpoint, 1998: p. 68.
I find myself revisiting this very Novemberish poem. Going dark.
214 cloves in the ground. And just in time; it’s supposed to snow 6 inches the day-after-tomorrow!
I couldn’t have done it without the help of my beautiful girls. I believe they are coming to love the rhythm of growing garlic nearly as much as I do. These magical cloves will meditate underground all winter and greet us early in the spring. In nine months time, we will pull them out of the earth and give thanks for their gift of abundance once again.
I have a lot to learn from garlic this year: stillness, quiet, solitude, patience.
A box of natural treasures is on its way to Washington State!
A meditative morning
cleaning out a garden bed,
getting ready for garlic.
Pulling out the old growth
to make room.
Letting in the light,
just before the rain.
There is so much color here —
so much joy in the seeding and growing,
planting and transplanting.
Watching, waiting, watering.
But there is sorrow, too.
Sorrow in letting it all go,
pulling it out —
even as I know that I must let it go
to make space for what is to come.