Wednesday, May 29, 2013


This is purple vetch, a wildflower.  It's on my parkway.  It's related to clover and alfalfa.  More distantly, it's related to sweet peas.  I admired this plant a couple years ago.  I watched it bloom and waited for the seeds in the pea-shaped pods to mature.  This was near the railroad tracks behind the KFC.  I collected the seeds and sowed them at home. When sowing the seeds of a wild plant, you should sow them around the time when the plant sows its own seeds.  You simply back off and follow nature.  If a wild plant grows alongside roads and curbs, you should plant its seeds alongside roads and curbs.  Wild plants know what they are doing.  Let them tell you what to do.   

Taking instructions from nature is an exercise in undoing habits.  I don't know when humans started putting themselves at the center of everything.  It's not necessary to know.  I am not a historian.  You don't need to be a historian either.  You merely need to pay attention.  I could compare this to my refusal to buy asparagus in December.  Here in western Massachusetts the asparagus season runs from late April to early June.  Then the asparagus are done.  There are bunches of asparagus in the grocery stores all year round, but I don't buy them.  I don't buy them for three reasons.  I don't buy them because (1) they come from too far away and (2) because Dole sends them here.  The third reason has to do with the real motivation to eat as seasonally as possible.  I am not above eating food that has been shipped to me, nor do I look down my nose at those who do.  Sometimes you want zucchini in December.  It's perfectly normal.  The reason to eat seasonally has more to do with waiting.  I am an impatient person sometimes, and so following the seasons is an exercise in patience.  It's a way to recognize that good things have their time and a way to appreciate what anticipation is worth.  It's not to deny myself a pleasure.  It's a way to add value to a pleasure by waiting for it.  It's a way to approach the ephemeral.  It's a kind of foreplay.  It's a way to take a back seat to nature and time. 

Pretty soon this vetch will be gone.  I'll mow it down and wait eleven months to see its flowers again.  If you need further reason to wait for nature, think of all the love songs that have been written about waiting on a letter.  Think of the love songs that are sung about sailors who are off to sea.  We can now spend our lives having whatever we want whenever we want it.  It's been this way for a long time and will probably continue to be this way.  And truth be told, I don't really have a problem with our immediate gratification culture.  There is nothing really wrong with it, but there is something to be said for tempering it, for thoughtfully putting some waiting back into our lives.  

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