Thursday, May 1, 2014

It's May, but is it Spring?

It's snowing on mountain apple blossoms this morning!

A friend recently asked for advice about the best planting times for spinach, lettuce and peas this spring. She had read the story, "Planting by the Moon", in Wayfaring Traveler, Whale Rider of the Tide.

In the story, I had described my love for my grandfather's big garden and his consulting of the Farmers Almanac, but that in my adult case, academia had given me skeptic-training.

So, I planted by the waxing or waning moon on my organic farm, and by fertile sign, and then planted the same seed in the "wrong" moon phase and sign.

It was a humbling experience, and I had a good laugh at myself and hubris in general. Old-timey wisdom still rocks.

Back to my friend's question about spring planting... Are we in fact having a spring?

More and more, un-bought/un-muzzled, scientists are expressing concern about the few sun spots in what was imagined as Solar Maximum.

Rolls around every eleven years except, when it doesn't. As in the Little Ice Age of the 1600's at the time of the "Maunder Minimum."

It was cold, overcast, a time of Vitamin D deficiency and bow-legged rickets. Seed rotted in the ground. People went hungry.

Grain for the the rye breads of Northern and Eastern Europe had a tendency to mold; that mold was ergot, a nasty hallucinogen and potentially fatal. It was also a time of apocalyptic art; there may be a doom and gloom connection. Now we have fluoride and weird meds.

Ingmar Bergman evoked the Zeitgeist cinematically in "The Seventh Seal." Time of imposing absolutes, Salem Witch Trials, and blame.

We, alive now, have grown accustomed to sound-bite time frames, but in the time frame of generations, cycles roll round. Though indeed...

It's May, it's May
the lusty month of May,
the time of year when everyone goes
blissfully astray...

"Exceptionalism" (of no repercussions ever) notwithstanding, we're all in this together. We forget about cycles of plenty and excess rolling down to the shock of cyclical hardship.

In the West, many of our elders are medicated and stored away in nursing homes, like holding cells with TV and bingo. We rarely sit and listen to their decades of life experience, which might give us a warning clue.

And the generation of string-savers and Victory Gardeners who lived the Great Depression are mostly gone.

If harvests grow iffy, for so many reasons including Monsanto and weather, and we've lived the flashy end of Aesop's Fable, fiddling away like the grasshopper, what then?


Will we let charismatic thugs guide us to hatred and blame, to war and resource theft? Or will we plant gardens, remembering Joseph's dream about fat and lean years? And try to take care of our own?

The snow has tapered off now. It may yet be spring! Heirloom tomato plants are looking fine by the south windows. We may need to shelter gardens in this strange season of global and cyclical life.

 Storytelling still lives:


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