Friday, May 8, 2009

Nature's Resilience
as a Lesson in Economic Optimism


--Feature Column: "Sustainable Soul w/Rebecca Hecking"--

Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the financial markets, spring still arrived this year in the northern hemisphere. I take this as a supremely encouraging occurrence in an otherwise unsettling time in human history. This season in particular (for reasons unknown) I find myself noticing the gradual arrival of spring more vividly than in past years. Mostly, it’s the daffodils.

Driving the country roads near my home requires a high level of alertness to potential hazards such as random deer or the occasional Amish buggy, but this season my attention has been distracted by clumps of daffodils. They grow in large bunches near the roadside, perhaps in a wooded area or maybe in an wild-ish meadow. I’ve seen a lot of them near long-neglected, falling-down barns or abandoned farmhouses.

They were planted decades before. Someone purposely planted a single daffodil bulb way back when the woods were fields, the fields were tilled, the barns smelled of horse, and the houses rang with the laughter of children. The farms are gone now; the daffodil-gardeners have long since moved elsewhere. But the flowers remain. They faithfully return every spring, oblivious to the fate of their planters. They testify to the real-world history of the near-mythic, much idealized “family farm.”

Daffodils will “naturalize” when planted in decent soil. Left to their own devices, the bulb grows every year, and splits off smaller bulbs which then grow and bloom in their own time. Unlike some formerly cultivated plants, they are not invasive. They happily keep to themselves, enlarging their clump just a little every year, mostly oblivious to the rest of the world.

Did the gardeners who planted the “daffs” know they were “paying it forward” to the Universe? Did they realize that the fruits (or should I say flowers) of their labors would bring a moment of unexpected happiness to complete strangers many years after they had moved away? I doubt it.

Those daffodils are simple, everyday symbols of endurance. Survival. Persistence. Joy. And we need that right about now, don’t we? Pie-in-the-sky promises of get-rich-quick investments just don’t cut it anymore. Neither does head-in-the-sand environmental denial. I’ve heard people say that we are entering the “Age of Consequences.” The results of our collective past actions are finally catching up with us.

How can we follow in the footsteps of the daffodil gardeners in an eco-conscious way? Can we plant something (literally or figuratively) that will blossom for years to come? For the literal minded, I suggest checking out (guerillagardening.org) For the rest, I leave you to your own imaginings. Dream of the earth, healed and restored. Flourishing. Alive. Now, make it happen. And while you’re doing all that, keep your eyes open for serendipitous daffodils.


Rebecca Hecking is over the moon with happiness that the Lohasian is back and better than ever. She plans to scatter native wildflower seeds on an abandoned lot, and hopes to bring joy to the bees. To read more "Sustainable Soul", check out her blog (thesustainablesoul.blogspot.com )


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