I Heart Indies

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Planting

Nancy and I started putting in our garden; this involved a considerable amount of effort.  This year, instead of renting a roto-tiller, we spade-turned the soil.  This means between our two beds, we turned over approximately 450 square feet of dirt.  Also, this year Nancy wanted to try making "mounds" because she'd seen this done at the Botanical Gardens.  So we also made mounds.  Lordy, my shovel muscles are tired.
I'm not complaining actually, I'm bragging.  The truth is, I love digging and hoeing.  I've been gardening, man and boy, since I was about twelve.  I'm fifty-three now.  You do the math.  I've never gotten appreciably better at it, but I do love it so.  I also love watching my beautiful wife, wielding a shovel.  All my atavistic farming instincts come rushing back, and I'll admit our mounds look pretty official.  I'm not sure they'll make any difference, but they look like we know what we're doing.

We let the chickens roam the furrows hunting worms, and they had a high old time of it.  It's sort of a last hurrah for them.  This is the last time we'll let them out of the coop for a while, until our plants get their growth.

I'm just a plain cornball sucker for the cycle of seasons.  I love the movement of winter into spring.  Dependably, it always makes me think of my own mortality.  When I was twenty, my mother taught me this poem by A E Housman:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with blosoms long the bough,
And all along the woodland ride
Is dressed in white for Eastertide.
Now of my three score years and ten,
Twenty will not come again.
Take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom,
Fifty years is little room,
Through the woodland I will go,
To see the cherry hung with snow.

I haven't been twenty for a long time, and the number of my remaining springs has dwindled considerably.  Literature really teaches only one lesson, but it teaches it over and over again, "You will die, you will die, you will die."  In The Peloponesian Wars, Xerxes remarks that of all his soldiers, his whole vast army, not one of them will be alive in a hundred years.  I'll admit, that's about as far as I got in Thucydides' history, because I figured once I read that, I knew everything I needed to know.

Admittedly, knowing you will die isn't that big a secret, and it doesn't come in as handy as, say, the Pythagorean theorem, but at least it helps you avoid the more obvious life-wasting pitfalls so many fall into.  For instance, I know better than to let a spring pass without glorying in it, turning over the earth, watching my beautiful wife, and hearing the birds sing.

Here's my version of Housman:

Of my three score years and ten,
Fifty three will not come again.
Take from seventy springs fifty-three,
Seventeen springs are left to me.
And since to look at things in bloom,
Seventeen is little room,
To the garden I am bound,
To see the soil ranged in mounds.

1 comment:

  1. This is absolutely wonderful...I'm stealing part of it as a FB status (suitably attributed, of course.) Happy Hoeing!

    ReplyDelete