“…. Leaves that the wind. Drives earthward; such are the generations of men.”
– Marcus Aurelius (quoting Homer)
“Even as are the generations of leaves, such are those also of men. As for the leaves, the wind scattereth some upon the earth, but the forest, as it bourgeons, putteth forth others when the season of spring is come; even so of men one generation springeth up and another passeth away.”
– Homer, The Iliad with the original quote
We’re in the prime of growing season now and the tomato plants that I grew from seed are over knee high. I’ve tried a couple of things this year that I haven’t done previously. First, growing from seed instead of just buying plants at a local nursery. I did that just because I wanted to do something “summer” in the middle of what seemed like an endless “winter”. And second, I switched to chicken manure instead of composted cow manure. This is a nod to my grandfather, who was known to gush about the benefits of chicken manure for growing kick ass tomatoes. So far that seems to be bearing out. Chicken shit is a derogatory term, but the real stuff packs a punch; pungent, powerful and efficient (a little goes a long way).
The more I garden, the more I recognize the seasons for what they are. And the longer I live, the more I see the similarities between our lives and the seasons. There’s nothing revolutionary in this thought process, just refer to Homer and Marcus Aurelius and you see that countless generations of humans have thought the same thing. This is our season, make the most of it. Don’t fear the end, embrace the now. I don’t view this as fatalistic, but pragmatic. Believe me I’m in it for the long haul but know the deck of cards doesn’t always play out in your favor.
A couple of seasons ago I had a problem with groundhogs eating half of my tomatoes and leaving the rest to rot in the sun. Apparently they’d rather sample than finish the fruit. Lovely habit. Around the same time I had a nice batch of blueberries ripening in the sun. The birds picked every last one of them before they showed a tint of blue. Lesson learned. Last year I planted pole beans to fill in around a clematis vine I had growing on a trellis. The rabbits ate them all to the ground before they’d even reached a foot tall. You just never know what fate brings your way, but I’ve learned to take measures to protect the fruits of my labor. Don’t go through life trusting blindly that everything will be just fine. Fence in your fruits and vegetables, change your passwords and lock your doors; trust but verify.
“Life is short. That’s all there is to say. Get what you can from the present – thoughtfully, justly. Unrestrained moderation.” – Marcus Aurelius
Our growing season is pretty short, but it’s long enough to grow decent tomatoes. Provide plenty of sunlight, nourish and give them a drink now and then, protect them from those who would harm them and if you’re lucky you end up with beautiful, ripe tomatoes later in the season. It’s a basic formula for gardening and raising children, and it works well for how we maintain ourselves along the way too. The last step of course is to savor the things you produce, the good fortune that comes your way, and the season that you’re in.