Many of us are saying goodbye and good riddance to 2016. It was a perpetual dumpster-fire of a year. I lost my dad, after a long fight with cancer, a college buddy, half my generation’s cultural icons it seems…and then there’s climate change, mass extinctions and the political insanity. Well, maybe all the heartbreaking stuff is meant to make us tougher. It looks like we will need to be tougher, doesn’t it? Stronger. More resistant. More energetic. I saw a shooting star on the first night of the year and desperately hoped it meant something hopeful.
But down here on terra firma, I have two of my favorite seed catalogs. (Yes, I am already thinking of tomatoes and peppers and melons and squashes.) Baker Creek’s heirlooms come in a catalog that is like the Victoria’s Secret of seed catalogs – gorgeous colors, enticing new varietals, excellent photography. It’s practically garden porn. Johnny’s catalog is utilitarian-looking, but has the clearest information about how to grow each plant – germination temperatures, spacing, days to harvest – that remains a handy reference for the whole year’s work.
Perhaps this is a template. One one hand there’s the beauty of the natural world, of people creating wonderful foods and taking care of living things, of the smells and colors and flavors that the earth provides. On the other hand, there is the knowledge and intelligence that comes from experience, the will to work hard, the pride in responsibility and stewardship, the commitment and sweat, the exchange of wellness between humans and earth. Beauty worth caring for. The planet, and her wonderful plants, animals, and even a good number of non-destructive humans are worth working hard to sustain.