Consider the lilies

“Consider the lilies of the field,” said the gospel this morning, “they toil not neither do they spin.” Right. They have a system that relies heavily on human labor. I toil and spin and all they have to do is grow. I spent the afternoon considering all sorts of things in the field, toiling and spinning enough to get a lot of things to grow. But they couldn’t do it without me.

Think back with me now to the 18th of January, if you will; a warmish day for mid-winter but with enough new snow that I spent some time shoveling it off the driveway. Later in the day I finished filling in the order blanks for garden seeds and sent them off by e-mail. It’s one of the pleasant tasks of a winter day and conjures up memories of warm summer sun smiling down on rows of green vegetables. The snow will be gone, the need to put more wood in the stove will be ended, and the heavy winter sweaters will be stored away. That was then.

Now it is May. Join me as I go out to the garden to bring those winter dreams to reality. The sun indeed shines down — and produces sweat. That in turn draws the hordes of gnats who look forward to their day in the sun even more than I do. I take the hoe and make the furrows to plant the seed. Today’s project is corn;, it can’t be planted until the soil is warm and a wet May has kept the soil cool. Last year this time the corn was up. Last year this time the temperature was 89. It could be worse.

Well, that was easy; why not put up the fencing for the green peas to grow on? If I had put the rolls of chicken wire away last fall as I should have, I would have to make a few trips with the tractor to get them down to the garden but they never got put away. There they are, just outside the garden gate, slightly rusted from their exposure to six months of weather but still serviceable. Good, we will drive a fence post in place and begin to unroll the wire. Why is it that there is always a rock two inches below the end of the row of peas? I move the fence post a few inches one way and another. It is a large rock. I drive the fence post in six inches back from the row. The gnats are enjoying the fact that I am too fully engaged in finding a rock-free area to drive the fence post to wave them away. Good, one fence post in; eleven to go – and rocks carefully placed under the end of almost every row.

Six rows of green peas, three rolls of chicken wire: one will take care of the first two and a third rows. That means driving another fence post mid-way of the third row. There’s a rock there also. Three rolls, in the event, take care of five rows, not six. There must be more wire somewhere. I’ll do it tomorrow. Notice now, if you will, the dark green leaves coming up everywhere. Those are mustard greens. I planted mustard greens several years ago and they return every year in abundance. I am planning to get a genetic modification kit and cross mustard greens with green peas, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots. All of these will then spring up automatically every year. This will be the greatest step forward since the domestication of wheat. Never again will there be a need to deal with gnats and rocks; simply till the garden and wait. No more need to toil or spin. I’ll let you know when it’s available.

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