Aside from the garden of Eden, man’s great temptation took place when he first perceived his seed catalog. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It is the time of year when seed catalogs take on a life of their own, slithering off the coffee table, piling near a favorite chair, and populating the bedside. Earmarked and rife with notes, circled photos, and exclamatory punctuation, the catalogs bear witness to the pent up longing for color and new life that is part of every gardener’s spring fever. Some of the seeds are already here, along with a supply of pots, flats, and bagged soil; others are still to be ordered. Every year, as I begin the late winter planting, I consider the profound act of planting a seed.
Although we may live in a high tech world estranged from our agricultural beginnings, our language continues to allude to the power of a tiny seed to start life, to change the world. Seeds of change, seeds of destruction, ideas that germinate, going to seed – the language of seeds is endless. While gardeners may engage in literally planting the seeds of flowers and trees, everyone engages in the metaphorical act of planting a seed. Almost 2000 years ago, Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote “Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be.” More recently, author Alice Walker observed “And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see . . .”
What is it about the act of planting a seed that holds such power? The first time I grew plants from seed instead of buying them in market packs from the garden nursery was a memorable adventure. After many phone calls to my mother to make sure that I was doing “everything right” I planted packets of my favorite flowers and felt far more attached to them than anything I had bought full grown. As I placed the seeds in the moist earth, I felt as if I were participating in an ancient ritual full of meaning and promise, a small act with enormous consequences. “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) Perhaps it is the way in which seeds begin the cycle of life from seed to germination to growth and flower and back to seed again that entrances us and provides such a perfect metaphor for how we move through time and how it flows before us and after us. “If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then to me.” (Shakespeare)
Tomorrow, I will plant seeds in dark soil, give them water, light and warmth, and trust in the miracle that they will emerge and grow and grace the world. “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” (Martin Luther)
To see how a seed germinates and grows, here are a few links to some wonderful time lapse movies. Enjoy!
Text and photos ©2012 Lynn Emberg Purse, all rights reserved.
Please do not reblog.