Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Savage Nature

I believe that if I live seasonally, in the way Ma Nature intends the rest of the organic world to live, I will be altogether better. Bountiful, beautiful, bright-eyed summer will find me indulging in juicy watermelon and cool green honeydew, laughing with my silly friends, and splashing around in pools, lakes, oceans and rivers alike. I'll bust out the running man with the no-nonsense enthusiasm of a lemon cucumber vine spitting out yellow, tennis-ball-ish fruit; the butterfly will burst from my crazy legz like a million purple string beans.
During the indian summer, I'll begin to reflect on the untamed euphoria of previous months; the trees will turn fiery and I'll eat fresh pumpkin bread to fatten up for the oncoming winter, during which I will essentially hibernate. Springtime, that magical season of hope and promise, will provide me with the first asparagus of the season, crisp and sweet, and embrace me with happy yellow daffodils and joyful pink tulips. Then it'll start all over again: excess, reflection, rest, growth, repeat. If I could discipline my body and mind to respect this archetypal cycle, I believe I'd be a more productive, happier, healthier person.

2009 has afforded me the oft-forgotten luxury of rolling with the tides, as they say. No obsessive planning. No lofty schemes. I've barely made a decision; decisions have presented themselves in front of me as if to say "I am the only logical choice." I drifted into the cycle in March, that temperamental lamb-beast, and I've cycled through as beekeeper, then writer, then farmer, all the way into the heart of August.

Keeping bees, working on a farm, and writing share a common denominator: the beekeeper, the farmer, and the writer rely on that which is natural and wild to be natural and wild, while attempting to contain the naturalness and wildness within an imposed structure. We must work with nature-- the hive mind, the harvest cycle, the unbridled idea--and manipulate it to produce our intended outcome. (Do I sound Romantic yet?)

From Andre Gide's The Immoralist:

"I marveled at the serene future promised by those robust oxen, those fat cows in their opulent pastures.

Secret treasure, Red Hook Community Farm

The apple trees planted in rows on the favorable hillsides heralded a splendid crop that summer;

First local heirlooms of the season, Union Square Greenmarket

I dreamed of the rich burden of fruit beneath which their branches would soon be bending.

NYC tomatoes sans blight (so far)

From this orderly abundance, from this happy subservience, from this smiling cultivation, a harmony was being wrought,

Little Shop of Horrors collard greens, Red Hook Community Farm, Brooklyn

no longer fortuitous but imposed, a rhythm, a beauty at once human and natural,

Rooftop hive in Fort Greene, Brooklyn

in which one could no longer tell what was most admirable, so intimately united into a perfect understanding were the fecund explosion of free nature and man's skillful effort to order it.

Morning light at Red Hook Community Farm, Brooklyn

What would that effort be, I thought, without the savage mastery it masters?

Bed prep at Added Value's farm on Governor's Island

What would be the savage energy of that overflowing sap without the intelligent effort which channels and discharges it, laughing, into profusion?"

Man mastering savage nature in Brooklyn

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