Friday, March 23, 2007

little miracles

The tiny black dot in the middle of my hand is a single seed of thyme. It is miniscule, insignificant. Hardly bigger than a granule of dirt. That it will grow into a plant large enough to fill two hands is baffling to me. Even though this is the reason for a seed's existence - it's what it does - I can't help but feel skeptical that this little speck will amount to anything. My doubt arises even in the face of my own eye-witness proof: last year, my seeds did indeed turn into plants (much to my awe and amazement). And yet still I feel unsure that this tiny piece of potential can become something so largely actual.

The fact of this seemingly impossible metamorphosis and our trust that it will occur successfully each time represents for me the most tangible, simple expression of faith I have encountered. A plant begins life from seed, grows to its full stature, then dies; but only in dying can it create the tiny dried seeds necessary to start the cycle over again. Each time we plant one of these seeds, we trust that it will in fact turn into the plant it is destined to become, impossible though it may seem. This has great spiritual significance to me: it points toward a larger meta-structure, a pattern in nature of life springing from death. From the weakest and smallest in appearance come the greatest and strongest, far beyond any reasonable expectation of potential. The last shall be first.

On this first weekend of spring, I am about to celebrate the beautiful weather by going out in my front yard and plowing up the weeds and grass in order to plant my front yard garden. When I dropped my seeds into a tray of peat cups earlier this week, I said a little prayer that they would sprout. I cling (albeit with uncertainty) to the trust that these seeds will germinate in time, and I hope that this simple act of faith nudges me closer to the sublime force behind it all.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

through the looking glass

It was pointed out to me earlier this afternoon that I haven't even posted anything "to tell the world that I'm now 30." Both parts of this claim are indeed factual: the sun has set on my 20's and risen on my 30's, and I have neglected to say anything about it.

Turning 30 felt different than most events that tend to elicit increasing anticipation (or apprehension?) as said event nears. A big vacation, a work deadline, waiting for the $365 million Lotto numbers to appear...there is build up to these events that reaches a peak at the happening itself. Turning 30 should be bigger than any of these, right? A once-in-a-lifetime shift from being 20-something to 30-something? Paradoxically, it seemed less of a big deal the closer it got. So much so that, by the time March 10 arrived, it finally just...was. I don't mean to make it sound anti-climactic in a negative way: it was a smashing birthday. Frankly, I was glad that it felt like more of a pivot-point than the leap I had imagined six months ago looking ahead to the date. I truly only felt one day older than the day before.

But there was a subtle shift in perspective. Instead of seeing this new age as the endpoint of my present decade - the only perspective I could feel while still 20-something - "making the turn" has placed me in a context to view this point in time as a beginning, the starting point of the next decade. It feels new, more present, less anticipatory. An end turned into a beginning. Through the looking glass, so to speak. is what it is, I am what I am, and enough of this pretentious display of sappy pseudo-philosophizing: I'm too old and too tired for this crap. I'm going to bed!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

the more things change...

I love this video. As the youngest person in the office, I have become the de facto computer geek despite the fact that I have no formal IT experience. The lack of training doesn't really seem to matter, though, as most of the problems people encounter are blindingly simple. The timbre of the conversation here is dead on - utter confusion on the part of the helped, respectful and patient attention (at least outwardly) on the part of the helper. Classic. (N.B. - as I reread this post, I'm aware that the subtext reads something like, "Look at me, I'm so computer savvy...and aren't I patient with all these ignorant techno-plebes?" I promise that implication is not intentional. Even if it's true.) By the way...I just remembered that this post was supposed to be more significant, as it is the 100th post to this blog. But I'm terrible at doing lists of 100 things or whatever other protocols are prescribed by the unspoken blogging rubric. Maybe I'll get my act together by post #200.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

my front yard: to eat or not to eat

Days and weeks are flying by. I can't believe it's March already. I have so much to post about...but it seems as if the more there is to write, the less time there is to write it.

In the's starting to warm up, and it will be time to plant the vegetable garden again soon. Even though I'm still pretty much a novice when it comes to growing veggies, I am inordinately excited about the start of growing season. So much so that I'm beginning to feel like a greenthumb nerd. Lately I've been fascinated by this landscaping project called "Edible Estates." Architect Fritz Haeg has been designing front yard landscaping that gets rid of the lawn and instead incorporates indigenous and edible plants. Admittedly, some properties look better than others (and the website is rather clunky and hard to navigate)...but I'm captivated by the idea. The project adheres to the notion that the front lawn - a symbol of suburban Americana - is really a fairly useless waste of good earth. It looks nice, but it's high maintenance and relatively unhealthy for the environment. A good lawn requires chemical fertilizer and a lot of water, not to mention regular mowing with a two-cycle engine mower that releases a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. An ABC News article about the project points out that the front lawn is actually a British aesthetic, but "in England, constant drizzle keeps lawns green. In the United States, sprinklers and fertilizers do the job."

So the question becomes: why not make that space work for you and look nice at the same time? Who's to say that a plain, flat, green front lawn is the ideal (unless you have kids playing on it)? I never sit in my front yard and enjoy it - I only mow it. I do spend lots of time in my garden. Plus, I think it could look kind of cool if it's tastefully done. Here are three photos showing the progress of one of Fritz Haeg's "Edible Estates" - feel free to click on them to get larger views:

Here's the thing: I'm going to have a garden whether it's in the front yard or the back. But if it's in the front yard: my front lawn is two perfect-sized rectangles facing directly south (ideal for vegetable gardening); I wouldn't have to mow; Scout gets the whole back yard to herself; I wouldn't have to wrap each bed in chicken wire to protect it from Scout; and it's an opportunity to do some interesting, different (and edible) landscaping. Good stewardship of the land that I own and, hopefully, the environment in general.

A handful of you have been very supportive of this idea (each of you knows who you are - thank you!). The rest of you feel free to chime in and tell me that this is (a) sheer genius or (b) absolute neo-hippie insanity brought on by some premature midlife crisis.