Sunday, June 28, 2015

appearance vs substance vs zero tolerance

So we plowed, then we harrowed, and plowed again, and harrowed again, and plated hard corn.  Then we planted potatoes, sparsely, meaning it is a BIG potato patch.  But still there was some room left in the rectangle garden, so we decided to plant extra sweet corn there.  It is hybrid because that was the seed that was left, but it is also short season, and we might parch some, might freeze some, but what I really want to do is put up some corn relish/salsa/chutney stuff.  Yeah, I don't have the recipe yet and you know I'll change it anyway.

So weeds had grown down there in that part of the garden since the last harrowing.  The hard corn, which here even before July is more than waist high, has been worked over more than once, as has all the potato area, but the boys just marked the rows and took shovels and cleared maybe a foot for a row and planted the sweet corn.  When they did that the weeds were maybe 8 inches tall?  Maybe not that tall.  Now, and I'm not really sure how much later "now" is, but now the sweet corn is maybe 8 inches tall.  It is definitely the tallest thing in the cleared row proper.  But in that 2-3 feet that wasn't cleared between rows, those weeds are now at least 2 feet tall, some bigger although not many (mostly stink weeds).  There's a lot of grass in that too, which means it is harder to hoe.

But it has been a project for the past week or so, especially for me.  I hoe better than most things in the garden.  Or weed.  Destruction.  Kali.  But it is also hot, and difficult work, and if you make a penance out of it, you won't do it again.  Better a couple rows at a time.  Enough to feel accomplished but not enough to kill you.  Enough so you at least don't mind doing more another day.

Today we did the final 3 rows of sweet corn.

And the strongest thought in my head as we did that (me and the husband, while the kids were working elsewhere):  This is why I have absolutely zero tolerance for appearances.

Even I have a little trouble following that, making those connections, but obviously my brain or heart or soul or whatever it is that talks to you in the gap between the thoughts made those connections just fine.  All the corn needs, all most of it needs, is a slight advantage.  It doesn't have to be perfect, not to mention that perfect is the enemy of good.  We hoe it down and all those weeds once again becomes a part of that field, nourishing those plants that we leave (corn and purslane mostly) through the worms and the fungus and the bacteria and the host of other things that make the soil alive.  Grass might be harder to hoe but it also brings up a ton of nutrients to leave behind.  The corn or the field really doesn't care how I do it, or when, or what I look like doing it, or anything else -- just that at some point somebody does something that gives it just a little advantage that it needs to make itself.  Then it will make itself.  If we have water, if a storm doesn't blow it down, if the crows don't come (we "thread" the field to thwart them, and use hay bale nets later on), if the racoons don't throw a party and invite their friends just as it is ripe, then with just a little advantage over the other things trying to grow (and if you have fertility, lots of things try to grow) it will make itself generously.

It doesn't care about appearances.

Neither do horses.  Probably a lot of what always attracts me to them.  It might be nice to have a really cool silk wild rag but that's for the human, not the horse.  A saddle that fits, important.  That it looks nice, not important.  Appearance vs. substance.

I mean, it is an age old debate, is it not?  "Saved by faith alone" vs "faith without works is dead."  I'm sure it is no surprise that as incredibly aware as I am of grace in this world, I put not an ounce of importance in what you say but all importance in what you do.  Perhaps because once I didn't do it, once I didn't say it?

So humans, they by and large don't get this.   And it is because, I think deep down bottom line, that their lives are all about appearances, not substance.

But gardens and horses and those things care not a whit for appearances.  So what if those weeds are not perfectly hoed -- the corn will not hold it against you.  If you weren't effective in communicating with the horse but then find a way to be more effective, the horse will not hold it against you.  And I think that is why I was thinking about the fact that I have zero tolerance for appearances while I hoed that corn.

I am reminded, however, that zero tolerance is usually not a good thing.

Well, I've moved before . . . but the garden and the horses will have to speak to me of this

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