Friday, May 08, 2009
The Simple Face of Spring
How better to note that the world is waking than to see things growing again.
Who among us cannot fail to be elated when the tulips and dafodils bloom? The flowers are gorgeous, but my ancestors on both sides came from farming stock and somewhere inside me lies a gene that calls forth a desire to muck a bit in the earth for more than beauty. My mother, who grew up on a farm, was compelled to plant a garden and so am I. There wasn't much room on our forty-foot wide Milwaukee city lot when I was growing up, but mom always managed to set aside a tiny plot for a few vegetables--the common ones like tomatos and beans and even some of the the kid yucky items like beets, cabbage, and kolrabi.
Nothing might seem further from the calling of an academic than putting down a few seeds every year, but my compulsion is just as strong as Mom's because I have been planting a little garden for over forty years. Those sweet peas and beans, ruddy radishes, bright green peppers, and glorious tomatos late in the summer feed the belly and the soul. Somehow remnants of that vanished agrarian past rise to the surface each spring like the tiny shoots pictured below. Flowers may be the frosting of April and May, but the real glory is in the greens.