Tuesday, September 4, 2012
A Prayer with Arugula
The arugula was the only thing I had sown this year from my own seed: a child of last year's arugula. I had allowed the plant, past its prime, to bolt and grow tall, to go to seed—ugly and rangy in my garden bed–—and pulled each dried-up pod, carefully harvesting little plant embryos from the chaff. Putting these in an envelope sealed with faith in biology and hope, I stored them overwinter and brought them out again last spring, sprinkling them chaotically in my salad bed to start again.
Up they came, and produced their delicious shoots of rocket to be cut into salads, added to sandwiches and tossed to passing ducks, who eschewed them for their bite. In July, they bolted in the heat again and I let them do their business, making more baby arugula for years to come. It was hot and heavy in the vegetable bed; bees abuzz and flowers of other lettuces coming into bloom as I lazily let anything past its prime pass into seed. Again, I harvested the seed and put it up in envelopes for a spring to come.
Yesterday, as I went about my business in the garden, peeking under winter covers to observe the infant growth of beets, onions, greens, broccoli and carrots, I saw something in the path. Arugula had scattered its seed on the garden path and sent up shoots, now a third generation grown on my land. Like so many careless sexual creatures, this angiosperm had spent its seed outside the confines of its home. There is such a delightful imperfection to this business of sexual reproduction—the mixing of genes, the crazy tangle of DNA. It would be less messy were we all but cuttings of one larger plant—the image of God, perhaps—but how much less interesting the world!
Over time, my arugula, having grown generations on the discrete micro-climate of my yard—will select for a variety perfectly adapted to the wind, the shade and sun here; perhaps even the watering habits of its grower. Each year, I will set seed, and the best arugula will grow. The arugula that survives will live to put forth flowers and turn flowers into seeds. I will harvest those seeds and start again; each year a new generation of peppery oval leaves—great-granddaughters of those I grew before. It is hard not to feel I am presiding over something rather great.
All the religion I need, for the most part, is spoken of in that arugula. Praise Glory, Praise Glory. Hallelujah to the world. I am fully in love with and devoted to Creation. Listen, listen. The decomposers work the soil at its little green feet. The beans spin sugar out of air and make a gift of it to the soil. The calendula keep nematodes at bay. Pollinators buzz and light. Predator robins swipe a caterpillar off a branch. Nature keeps putting forth. She is spilling her gifts upon my family—larger as I learn how to work with Her ways. I sit in the sunlight laughing.
Praise Glory. Praise Glory. Praise Glory.
Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License