We've been starting seedlings for a couple weeks, but the list for this week was the first really long one, the kind that takes me most of a day. I load podcasts, news, stories, music- and pop my ear phones in. The greenhouse is attached to the farm, so light boots and holey work jeans are entirely appropriate. No trudging outside in the wicked March wind required.
Hands buried in a bag of deep potting soil, I feel my body respond to the upcoming spring. My shoulders are a bit tender from a day of heavy lifting yesterday. Soon I will be more machine than man, putting in 14-16 hours a day and ignoring the aches completely until I drop into bed exhausted and sun burnt. I crave that work, those long hours and dreamless sleep. It makes me feel worthy of an able body, and like I could not be living more then I do.
I pour the rich soil into tiny seed trays, leveling off each one with a quick swipe and then dotting a small spot in the middle. With heavy hands I attempt to separate out tiny specs and lay them individually in the finger prints I've left in the soil. Each one of those seeds seems an entire universe- I can practically feel it's heart beat beneath the firm outside. It will awaken in a few days, stretching dormant roots from within and lapping up water and nutrients until it emerges- stretching for the sky. It will become tall and strong. Seeds are amazing things, from a tiny spot, easily overlooked to a living energy source- fueling us and animals and bees. They are the definition of potential- holding secrets and promise. In the cold of January we sit warm, and wrapped, pouring over catalogs and lists of these categorized miracles. But it is when that box arrives that I begin to feel the spring excitement. That box, no bigger than a small laundry basket will produce literally tons of food.
Rhythmically, I check the box next to the list of seedlings to be started and dust off my hands to move to the next tray. I feel massively complete, even with the hours ahead of repetitive movement. It starts here, the season- just like with each birth of rabbits or chicks- and I am so honored to shepherd the life of food from start to finish. These seeds will pay our bills, and all they ask is for us to be mindful, attentive, and acknowledge their needs. The stories play in my ear but it is the story I tell myself of the season ahead that truly has my attention.
Seeds, to seedlings, to leaves, to fruit, to seeds again. It is so primal and intoxicating to know the cycle and surrender to the process. No matter what happens months down the line, there will be more seeds next year. Life continues, with or without us. The magic of seeds.