Saturday, February 25, 2012

In the midst of the coldest of winter, with snow just a week ago blanketing everything, the earth turns ever closer towards the sun in the promise of warmer days.  This is the time for giving life a running start, a foothold for the next generation.  One of the first experiences that I had with kundalini was a feeling like I was being taken into the secret lives of plants.  I wrote a piece that poured out of me incredibly fast, a mere four minutes, that described how all of life had within it this yearning to become, that the same force that animates us and moves us in creative circles isn't just something that humans feel but that all of life feels.  I had no impirical evidence for why this is so, I only had what the Greeks called Gnosis, or knowing.  I KNEW it. I knew this because I felt it incontrovertibly. There was simply no question to my being that the stuff of the universe had a magnetic or gravitational quality to it, and it was this force that caused the seasons to roll 'round and life force to move in  cyclical fashion.

Many years later, while undergoing a rather hard time in the midst of what kundalini was churning up that I went out into nature and brushed my fingers across the pollen stems of a chestnut tree and felt a burst of bliss explode through my body.  Was I psyching myself out, or was I feeling into what was present in the tree as it created within its body the substance that would be carried by wind and by bees to the next tree, fertlizing the other and making for new life.  This was a revelation reborn in the moment.  Of course this was so, I realized, for I had been shown it a few years previous in my first experience with kundalini.  Plants yearn as do we, feeling the force of life in them as it wakes up in the seed, as it pulses in the pollen and seed pods of plants. This was the stuff that made life happen.  It was a fundamental principle of all life.  It was born from the very foundation of matter.  This force was in every atom, every particle that IS.  As more and more particles unite to form ever more complex structures, the intelligence of the universal being makes itself increasingly more manifest in the present. This continues in still larger more complex forms from cells to animals, plants, communities, nations, worlds and the cosmos.....whether sentient or non-sentient.  It was an underlying principle.

This year, I chose to buy heirloom seeds as I have been doing in years past. I hear a lot of concern about what technology is doing with GMO's and how these are a threat to the natural order built upon millions of years of progress. I suppose I can do my part in keeping these older non-hybrid life forms alive by planting more of them.  From them, I will be able to harvest seeds that I can keep for the next year and the life that will spring from them will be the same as what I had the previous year, which is a wonderful continuity to experience.  I encourage anyone who is concerned about how our reach technologically is going beyond our ability to grasp, to do the small things that can keep the culture of a sane world alive. The makers of Wild Turkey whiskey, for example, very recently explained that they will use no GMO corn.  The explained that much of their whiskey must age for ten to fifteen years. They said that if a problem with a strain of corn that they may have been using crops up in the mist of their business, it could spell the end of their business just for the fact that the corn being used in their product today wont see the market for another fifteen years.  If there is a problem with it, they might not know it until all their inventory is affected, and this, they explained, was too much of a risk for them to take.  In the same way, we all might not know the larger risks involved in introducing these new life forms to the planet.  At the bottom of this lies the need to control the genes contained in a given plant.  These plants have a patent which also means that they can be controlled and owned by the company producing them.  It also means that the seeds you get form such a plant may not "run true" and may result in still wider consequences when crossed with other varieties near the plot of corn or soybeans. 
So just a few days ago I got a mixture of seed starter material, a mixture of sphagnum peat moss and some nutrients that will hold water while the seeds germinate and give them a rich bed for starting. 

There are a number of tomato varieties that I am trying, one of which is considered near extinction.   It looks like a large red pepper, and is said to have been a favorite in gardens a hundred years ago.  Perhaps since it wasn't a hybrid, it had little commercial appeal for companies that wanted a lock on seed stocks.  The great thing is that I can harvest a hundred or a thousand times the number of seeds from this variety to give to friends who might be interested in trying this nearly extinct variety.  I am also trying two itallian varieties. One, which comes from Rome, looks amazing, and sold out the last time I had a garden.  I was able to get a packet this year by ordering early.  I put my order in just after Christmas and I am excited to see the results. I also have one variety that looks like it comes from the old world.  I have not seen one quite like it before.  It grows quite large and is said to have great flavor.  All of this will be a gift from the earth and a partnership between my effort and what the sun, soil, and rain will provide.

There was a time when we spent less money and had a greater ability to save and set more resources aside.  In our present economy, everything is provided for us.  We do less work at home but have to work more in the office in order to pay for all the things we have.  Getting back to the earth is a simple way of building riches for me. It also has another consequence, which is that as I work close to the earth, I can feel the pulse of life all around me.  It helps me keep in touch with that first experience that kundalini brought to me.  And as I have my first bite into that much anticipated ripe tomato, the taste will be tangy and sweet as I consider how life seeks to make more of itself in an enterprise that is entirely creative.  This is a wonderful way to marry grounding with the cosmic. 

As the days get longer, and the winds bring bitter cold, I know that behind this wind is the changing of the seasons, and as the winds of March and April enter our world here in Virginia, warmer days are ahead as my heirloom peas make the first entry into the garden because of how they can tolerate cooler weather, followed by lettuce, onion, then squash, eggplant, then corn and beans and tomatoes....and as I consider what to grow I see how certain foods were esteemed above others for their practical use.  Beans and peas could be dried and kept without refrigeration both for seed stock as well as food for the following year.  What couldn't be dried was canned.  While I don't like canning all that much, I do see how certain things do well canned.  Some things need to be eaten fresh.  Tomatoes do well fresh or canned. Salsa, spaghetti sauce, as well as stewed tomatoes for any number of stews and red sauces. All of this, a gift from the force that brings new life to us on a moment by moment basis and renders those who can heed its force, wonder-filled.

I hope you can partake in the seasonal turnings of earth's wheel of life, even if it means planting a few choice vegetables in a planter for the deck or patio.  Tomatoes do well in planters, and squash can grow in their viney way all over the place if you have the room for them.  Zuchini can be prolific and well worth the investment in time and effort. In the link below is the company I use for heirloom seeds.  They are family owned and grow only natural heirloom varieties.  They have expanded their seed stocks to plants from other countries such as Asia for those with a taste for something different. 

Baker Creek Seeds

There are other companies that deal in seed stocks of heirloom varieties.  There are clubs and loose confederations of seed swappers that are done less for profit than to keep old seed varieties alive. Seed Savers is one such group.  You can also use a web search to find still others.  If interested in those varieties that will produce the same progeny s what you planted, you will want to look for non-hybrid, non GMO varieties.  These often get the blanket term "heirloom" although there are some hybrids that are considered heirlooms because of how long they have been used.  Hybrids are just a cross of two different varieties that will create a single generation effect.  In the case of a tomato from Burpee, for example, you might get a beefsteak hybrid that grows nice big fruit.  You save the seeds and plant them the following year only to have small plants that make cherry tomatoes!  These are perfectly good to eat, but is an example of how in order to get the qualities of both plants, you have to cross the varieties over decades in order to get a stable "true" stock that will continue to make the same type of plant and fruit emerge in your garden.  GMO's however result from a gene being inserted into the plant for a given effect.  The gene could be from a goat, or any number of life forms, and for who knows what effect.

Keeping it close to the earth with what the wisdom of millions of years has brought us strikes me as a very good way of going forward!  Here is to a great spring!  Its just around the corner for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

No comments: