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Legacy and potential

September 22, 2012

My parents were both raised on farms in West Virginia.  From a young age they became familiar with the cycles and seasons of planting and harvest.  Their families grew and preserved in the summer what they would eat during the winter.  And so it was natural that as adults they would do the same in our backyard in small town Ohio.  Corn, green beans, lima beans, peas, strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, cucumbers, green onions, zucchini, pumpkins…they grew an entire produce section there in the backyard of our one acre lot.  And most of it was grown from seed.

Seeds are funny little things, you know?  They are so tiny, and they look so…dead.  It’s hard to imagine that when you hold one in your hand, you are holding the potential for life.  That teensy dried and shriveled thing can make food– sometimes a heck of a lot of it, which you can relate to if you’ve ever planted the ever-prolific zucchini, which can take over a back yard in ten minutes..  That seed can make more seeds, and if you save some from the harvest each year for sowing the next, in twenty years you could still be eating the fruit of that one little seed you hold right now.

How wild is that?

But it’s not a given.  When you plant a seed, you shove it down into the dark, moist soil, and you cover it…and leave it.  If you go back and uncover it to see how it’s doing, it will die.  You won’t know if it’s truly alive until it sprouts, and sometimes that takes a while to happen.  When it first sprouts, it will have no fruit, and its tiny first leaves will look nothing like those of a mature plant.  In fact, unless you know exactly what that baby plant should look like, you might not even know if that sprout is the result of your sowing or a bit of weed that has invaded your garden.  It will take a bit of time to know for sure.  It will take even more time for the plant to bloom.  And yet more time for it to begin to bear fruit.  And more time still for that fruit to mature to the point that it can be harvested for eating, preserving, or gathering for the next time of sowing.

A person can get pretty hungry and impatient in the waiting.  But there really isn’t a viable alternative to waiting.  It takes as long as it takes, and you are not in control of that.  That tiny desiccated bit of potential is programmed from within to do its thing on its own timetable.  Attempting to rush the process is not only ineffective, it’s downright destructive.

I’ve been thinking of this because I’ve endured long seasons of waiting to see if seeds sown into my life in seasons past would ever sprout, ever grow, ever bloom, ever bear fruit, ever produce a harvest.  Sometimes the wait has been so long that I’ve despaired of ever seeing those seeds come to life.  But as I water the soil and hunker down under the loads of fertilizer life inevitably dumps on me now and then, as I shoo away the thieving critters and other pestilence, I find that what I sometimes thought was surely dead and decayed is suddenly green and growing and looking for a trellis to climb higher towards the sun. It was there all along, forming roots and gaining the strength it would need to endure the days of storms and drought and wind that come with every growing season.

I recognize that many of the seeds in my life are hybrids.  Part this, part that, with a bit of thingamajig, they grow to look like nothing seen before and they produce fruit which is loaded with seeds that will one day produce some this, that, and a bit of whatchamacallit for someone else– reminiscent of what came before, and yet perfectly and uniquely suited for whatever season is current for that time.   The seeds are at once both legacy and potential.

I like that it works that way.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sparky permalink
    September 23, 2012 6:17 am

    Really good, Lisa. Excellently written. Good thoughts to ponder upon.

  2. September 28, 2012 8:39 pm

    I’m catching up on my blog reader and I don’t think it was a coincidence that I read this post tonight. Thank you.

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