I have a confession to make: On top of being slow to post, I only made it through chapter 17—and after flipping forward a few pages, I have a sneaking suspicion that chapter 18 might be some of the most interesting reading yet. If anyone did make it through and is willing to share some thoughts, I'm curious to hear what there is to look forward to.
Even without (ahem) quite making it quite to the finish line, this week seemed full of things that resonate with HOMEGROWN. A few passages that stood out to me:
On page 69, in talking about his neighbor's iris cultivation, Gene writes: "American society was simply not acculturated to this kind of work. We were programmed to buy our garden seeds and bulbs. Being able to buy stuff was the mark of success in our culture. It never occurred to us that we could develop our own new varieties."
This is something I've been thinking about a lot. It's one of the tenets here on HOMEGROWN, and although I've long embraced it, lately I've been feeling like I'm discovering yet another household thing practically every week that I could make instead of buy. Somehow something that I know so well is still feeling revolutionary. Does that ever happen to you guys?
Some other themes that kept popping up:
• In reference to the grassed-over furrow in Gene's suburban Philly backyard, I was struck by the idea of finding clues to the past in the most mundane places—that there's a mystery and an answer everywhere.
• How our understanding of time is so split-second and yet we can't see how much is constantly happening around us. On page 75: "Only slowly becoming aware of how quickly everything changes everywhere all the time ...." And on page 81: "The human mind sees cycles because we think in terms of beginnings and endings, of causes and effects, of time passing. But the forest acts only in the everlasting NOW." And on page 83: "We humans do not grasp the efficiency of nature because to us it seems so inefficient. A mature oak tree will drop thousands of acorns in a good bearing year. If only one sprouts and grows every century, that is enough to keep the species alive and ready for the favorable year when hundreds of new trees will start."
• That we can learn a lesson from nature: Don't worry so much, just try it and see. On page 118: "The sweat bee does not fold its little wings akimbo and declare that it never has sucked mail handles before and is not, by God, about to start now. It just licks. If nothing bad happens, it goes on licking."
And that's not even touching on the resiliency of plant life in the wake of disaster. But before I go on too long, Ione last thing: Especially given HOMEGROWN's pedigree as the is the little sibling of Farm Aid, I just loved the passage in chapter 11 on humans and music and how intertwined the two are. Reminds me that life is better with a soundtrack!
For next week: Should we finish the book off? Or opt for two more weeks of about 25 pages each?
I loved the passage in Chapter 12:
The human mind sees cycles because we think in terms of beginnings and endings, of causes and effects, of time passing. But the forest only acts in the everlasting NOW. Death is not an ending but the beginning of something else.
After reading the chapter on buzzards, I went for a hike with my husband. The buzzards followed us for a ways, and I was nervous, remembering Gene's words about them. LOL
The last chapter shook me a bit. I have always demanded extreme hard work from myself, often pushing myself past a sustainable level of output for so long that I give out. Gene talks about not doing today what you can put off until tomorrow. This has gotten me thinking a lot. This evening, instead of doing the thousand chores that I "should do" (despite having run myself ragged for the better part of a month), I grabbed a beer, sat on the patio, looked at the garden, daydreamed/planned garden beds and placings and listened to the birds chirping. May not have been a productive day, but I certainly feel better.
I've opened this thread about 15 times but somehow always got distracted and didn't write what I was thinking... sorry!
Here were some of my favorite parts:
In Chapter 12 (when talking about trees):
...there are several threats to their continued existence as a species, but again, threat is not a tree word.
We humans do not grasp the efficiency of nature because to us it seems so inefficient.
Chapter 13 made me want to plant parsnips. Although that season has well passed for me now, they are in the plans for next year. I wonder if it will always make me think of this quirky little book.
All of it was some good reading but if we fast forward to Chapter 18, that too struck a cord with me. In part, because we have to force ourselves here to be patient. We have a 10+ year house/ranch project going on. We're ALWAYS going to feel behind so it's good to know to slow down and enjoy it. I also find myself doing things in a physically non-economical sort of way and I have to get better with incorporating some physics into my every day life!
Jennifer, what you wrote about making stuff and how you keep seeing new things we thought we have to buy... I completely agree! It's like, once your eyes are open there is no way you can stop it from being so apparent! I love this slippery slope!
I think I inadvertently opted for 2 weeks to uh... finish off the book. Can we do it by the 14th give or take a few days?
Hope you ladies are having a wonderful week. It's 88 here already and all I want to do is be outside!
Here here on wanting to plant parsnips—and on wanting to be outside! It's still in the 40s here, but the growing season is finally in sight.
Planning to finish up the book for next week sounds perfect, and thanks so much, Cynthia, for agreeing to jumpstart the discussion.