The darkest six weeks of the year are behind us. While winter has been harsh for these parts, the sun continues to strengthen since the darkest day three weeks ago.
The plants know.
Tiny spears of crocus are stirring around the neighborhood–this one comes up faithfully on Leaming Avenue, year after year after year.
If you look, you will find them, tiny green fingers breaking through the earth reaching up for the sun, reminding us that faith comes in all forms.
You won’t find one flowering yet–at least I have not seen any this early–but their buds are already forming beneath the ice and snow, knitting water and carbon dioxide together to create the spring flowers that will explode open in just a few more weeks.
If you find one flowering before March, let me know.
When we bought our home in North Cape May years ago, we stumbled upon the LCMR plant sale, a work of love by Joanie Dilling and her students. We paid a couple of bucks for a small rosemary plant, planted it next to the house, and pretty much left it alone.
The tiny plant is now a sprawling lovely aromatic mess threatening to take over the driveway, and continues to give and give and give.
Every time I walk by, I stroke a few sprigs then bring my fingers to my nose, remembering again what I thought I could not forget.
The periwinkle flowers. feed the few foolish bees who wander out of the hive on the rare, deliciously warm December days.
The sprawling trunk holds its own beauty, wood arising out of the Earth like a writhing Naga.
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary will run you $2.49 at the local Acme, about the cost of the seedling I carried home, started by a struggling high school student shepherded by a kind woman from Ocean City.
Or you can swing by here, snip a few sprigs, and thank the universe for living in a land as blessed as our neighborhood.
If you’re local, you can grow one, too. We are blessed by our bay, our skies, our weather, and our sand.
I do not know what the word “perfect” means. I know what we think it means, but its meaning crumbles in my hand when I squeeze it.
So here’s a tomato, an unexpectedly beautiful November tomato I found in the garden last fall.
It’s not perfect in a Platonic sense, but it was perfect for that particular day in this particular life.
I ate it, of course (what else would one do with a tomato), but its image lingers because I took a picture of it when I saw it. A picture is all that is left of this tomato–soon after this photo it became tiny particles breathed and pissed out of my body.
The Greeks have proven troublesome, at least to me. John gets right to the heart of the problem. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God.
Western culture picked that up and ran, creating all kinds of masterpieces we ogle (or are supposed to ogle, anyway) while the tomatoes get eaten, breathed and pissed out, then reconstructed again, over and over.
The perfect tomato above no longer exists but still feels real. Photographs and words will do that.
A spoken story dies with the storyteller. The parts of the stories that matter or resonate or are crudely funny get passed along to younger mortals, who, after sharing stories and eating tomatoes that they exhale and piss out, also eventually die.
Somewhere along the way, several thousand years ago, written language was invented. When the stories can no longer be changed by the wiser among us, words become our prisons.
We work for words, for the abstract, for the future, for money, for fame, for recognition, for a lot of things, but unless you are directly working with the ground or water or air, you are living in a world that does not exist. Literally.
When we confuse the abstract with the real, and we do–every single day–we are reliving the story of original sin, a story that survives because it’s a story that matters.
And still does.
Pay more attention to the voices of the living. The letters of the past are no longer edited, no longer ours. Let them go.