While yet another snow storm has started since I took these pictures a few hours ago, the brandnew fig leaf and the tomato plants which overwintered and thrived in front of this window are proof positive that spring is – sort of – finding its way here; maybe taking the long, scenic route, but it is on its way.
The muck boots are sitting quietly near the door, waiting patiently, without complaint, for their opportunity to be of use – soon.
My second interpretation of Future Tense: Compiling the ingredients of my breakfast – first, real chicken eggs from our own chickens; second, greens from the hoop house. The chickens were a real investment in the future. They were still quite young when they arrived last April and didn’t start laying until August. But then they kept producing throughout the winter even when other people’s chickens decided to take an egg-laying winter break. There is something so promising and rich about a smooth, clean, fresh egg. It can produce a new chicken, or it can become part of any number of delicious dishes, like here, resulting in a late breakfast.
The greens (spinach, kale, broccoli raab, mesclun lettuce, watercress) were planted last October in our hoop house which is basically an unheated greenhouse with plastic covering. With a few coldframes inside the hoop house, greens can make it through the winter even up here in the mountains. Planting for the future….
Even though there can be a quite a delay, sometimes many months, between the planting of a seed and its mature version yielding a harvest, every single step along the way is gratifying in itself. Preparing the soil and sowing the tiny seeds is such an archetypal activity, so ancient that it connects us with the very beginnings of agriculture in human history. It represents the hope for a rich harvest, for food security down the road. I am happy when I come in from planting in the spring even if my body is complaining about all that bending and stretching. Hands in the soil is grounding, calming, nurturing. And when the miracle finally happens and the seed pushes up a stalk and leaves, I am always astonished about the power of the life force – how it asserts itself, pushes and lifts things out of the way, gathers whatever nutrients it needs out of soil and air, to grow, grow, grow; to fulfill its blueprint, its destiny.
And when the weeds try to outgrow MY desired plants, I often harvest the weeds to feed the animals or else will eat them myself (chickweed, lambsquarter, dandelion are all high-quality foods if you know how to prepare them). Anything not edible helps grow the compost pile. In nature, there is nothing unnecessary or “less than,” the way we define weeds and combat them with the most toxic chemicals. Nature invites us to find uses for everything.
And when everything has conspired to produce a good harvest, there is a sense of satisfaction and gratitude – and, then, more work to take care of the harvest by preserving the excess amounts so that the pantry can look like this the next winter:
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