Friday, May 6, 2011
The Possibilities are Endless
I love a good find. I also love it when I can re-purpose something that someone else has owned and use it in an entirely different way than it was intended to be used. I think this is a good skill for everyone to develop.
I saw a trellis made from an old bicycle. The folks had taken the tires off and removed the leather from the seat and sunk it down into the garden and anchored it there. When the climbing vines needed a hand up, there was the bike to provide it. That’s cool. That’s repurposing. We don’t have to invent a bicycle to use it as a trellis.
We grow potatoes in tires, tomatoes in paint buckets, cucumbers on fences and fish in bathtubs. That’s also a kind of repurposing. Potatoes don’t know they’re growing in tires, any more than fish know their swimming in a bathtub.
I like the way we can take weird components that don’t have any real value in and of themselves and turn them into good, usable additions to our Stealth Farming repertoire. Most of my sub-irrigated planters, well, all of them actually, have recycled and repurposed components in them. The water reservoirs are made from plastic containers that had other uses first. Most of the containers themselves had other uses first, some more than one. Since I can’t figure out how to re-use zip-ties, I must admit I’m the first user there. But I feel good about the rest of it.
The biggest thing that I have recycled or repurposed isn’t even a tangible thing. It’s the idea: the idea that I can grow my own food, the idea that I can reduce my negative impact, the idea that I can do any of it. I didn’t have that idea first myself.
I am grateful for the amazing exchange of ideas that occurs everyday on the internet, in gardening clubs, at farmers’ markets and over back fences. Those ideas that other people have and are willing to share enrich the lives of those who listen, begin to dream and then apply those ideas.
Sharing ideas is powerful. It’s kind of like planting a seed. You give someone an idea about how to grow tomatoes himself and he begins to think it’s possible. He dwells on the idea long enough and adds to it, looks for ways to bring it about and then acts on it. This is like the fertilizing we do. We feed those ideas with other possibilities. Then he acts on it and plants the seeds or buys a seedling and puts it in his own dirt, waters it, feeds it and helps it to grow. He makes sure that it gets enough water, enough sunshine and that the bugs are kept at bay. Eventually, he gets to see the flower and then the swelling fruit and then the color changes and the smells and the sights and gets excited. By the time he gets to pull that tomato off the plant, he already knows how it will taste because he has done it so many times in his mind. While he eats it and savors it, his mind is turned to “next year….”
And he knows he can grow his own tomatoes. He has moved way beyond thinking it’s possible.
I remember my mother telling me many, many years ago that if I wanted to accomplish something or do something, I could. All I had to do was work toward it steadily and it would be mine. I have to give credit to her for any optimistic outlook I may have in my life. It was taught to me by lessons in life but mostly by her example. She actually believed what she was teaching me and showed it in the way she lived her life.
Because Mother’s Day is this Sunday, I can’t help but to reflect on my mother and what she taught me. She grew African Violets for years. I watched her water them, turn them ¼ turn each day, sing to them, play classical music for them and enjoy them. When nobody else I knew could grow them, she could and they thrived for her.
My mother knew her way around the kitchen. There wasn’t anything she couldn't make or do. She made the most wonderful bread. I would come home from school in the afternoon and smell it baking a block away. She would time it so that it was just coming out of the oven when I got home, just in time for a steaming slab with gobs of butter and warm honey drizzled all over it. She and I would sit and talk and eat bread and life was good.
My mother knew more about food than I could possibly know. She knew what spices and seasonings to use to dress up a dish just right. She knew which foods to serve with which entrees to compliment the flavors. She knew which foods to place on the plate just so to balance the appearance and lend their strength to the visual impact of the meal.
When my son was found to have food allergies to everything except corn and rice, she disappeared into her laboratory (the kitchen) to develop recipes that he could eat with enough variation that he wouldn’t be bored with food.
I miss my mother. She has been gone for several years now. The biggest loss I feel is that my children don’t have their grandmother to teach them these things. My older children have their memories of her but my younger one’s don’t. It’s hard to miss something that you never had.
So for all those mothers who are teaching their children and spending time with them, thank you for continuing the tradition. Mothers are amazing and my own is no exception to that rule. She was simply exceptional.
I love you, Mom.
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