It’s a New Year – 4 Thoughts Looking Back

Happy New Year!!!

Its a time of year when its hard not to get excited about everything new – new plans, new ideas.
But I can’t help but reflect on the familiar, the recurring, the old, and the very old.

So here we have it – Four Thoughts, looking back, my way to ring in the new year!

1. The Familiar
Its been 8 years since I broke ground here at Kolapore Gardens – 8 years of applying composted manure, growing vegetables from seed, cultivating the soil & growing food. Some of you have been involved in the gardens in some way or another from the very start, and I must say, that my deepening connections in the community – the familiar faces year after year, brings a subtle comfort and sublime joy to my work – really. If you are a familiar face – thank you – as new lines are etched on our skin by time, and another hair seems to magically turn grey, as if over night, we can laugh and cry together, and that is pretty amazing.

2. The Recurring
You know that feeling, I think Yogi Berra said it well, “it’s like deja vu all over again.” It can be really funny, but it can be really scary too. I’m faced with these three recurring themes:
1. Our Planet is Changing – And we can’t wait for political leaders to actually “lead.” Weather seems to be a bit more extreme and unpredictable day by day. Many ecosystems, vast collections of unique species, and whole cultures, balance precariously on the edge of oblivion, while increasing amounts of both slide off the tipping point, never to be again. Meanwhile, news stories remain obliquely trivial – which can be very depressing. This hasn’t seemed to change for a long time.
2. People really are doing their best. Despite all of the challenges, everywhere I look, people are truly doing their best in the face of these issues. Its incredibly hopeful and inspiring – the deeper you go, the more you find instances of incredible intelligence, courage, tenderness, and yes, incredible pain. But day by day, most of us keep on. No one said it would be easy right?
3. Nature is Cyclical. I can’t help but revel in the incredibly cyclical nature of my work. Its winter – again, and the cellar is full, but emptying – again. The greens are cold, protected from the wind, and dreaming of slowly regrowing when its not too cold – again. While unrelenting, there is something deeply comforting about this recurring pattern.

3.The Old
I get so excited reading about new tools, new varieties, new (to me at least) techniques of growing – but it is also staggering how old some of the old things I’m working with actually are. I’m not talking about my old tractor, with its temperamental starter, nor am I talking about some of the old tools I use, that were passed down to me from my grandfather – nope – much older. The seeds. OK, I should clarify – I’ve learned my lesson, you don’t want to keep seed around for too long, it loses its vitality. But one thing new seed doesn’t lose is its old, old genetics. All of the tomato varieties I grow can be traced back to indigenous strains that once spread out of what is now called Central and South America. Some vegetable varieties were carried by indigenous peoples, like the Cherokee, during their forcible migration across the continent. Other varieties have been kept and improved upon by European families for centuries – many originating in Egypt and the Fertile Crescent. Now that’s old!

4. The Very Old
I live quite close to a deposit of chert, a stone that is relatively easy to sharpen by smashing it with other rocks, into spearheads, knives, and other cutting tools. To be clear, I’ve never done this myself, and I say relatively easy because its easier than trying to do this with other stones around here.
The natural abundance of chert made this place a real mecca long, long ago – it seems unusual that Redwing would be identified on a map of the world, but if such a thing existed 11000 years ago, it likely would – that’s very old, and a pretty amazing fact about this area!

They say its hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you came from.

Until next time!