Seed Swaps with G/Son


My beloved G/Son is growing up so fast.

I know that’s what old women always say, but we say it because it’s true. From our perspective: the wind-sanded, rain-washed, sun-warmed sitting rock here, just before the edge of the cliff, (you know, the cliff that you jump off, or that you get pushed off, or that you dive, or dance, or dither off of to get to the Summerlands, the Isle of Apples, that place where Arthur and Galadriel went, into the West — that cliff) we can see how fast the Dance to the Music of Time (as I learned to call it when I was a young girl in college, taking all the Lit courses I could take) always proceeds, even when it appears, for a moment or two, to slow down. But the fast-action nature of Mama Gaia’s spin through the ever-more-quickly expanding universe has its good points, as well as its overall hint of saudade. And one good point is that I’ve learned to really treasure each moment that I get to spend with G/Son. I’ve learned not to take any of them for granted.

This weekend, I had hoped to take G/Son down to Occupy DC, so that we could bring the Occupiers some hats that I’ve knitted and a bag of apples that I bought and to show G/Son how people are trying to change our world so that some people don’t go hungry, homeless, without health care, while others have too much. But this was the weekend when the National Park Service attacked Occupy DC, and a five-year-old and an old woman with (what my grandma referred to as) a bum ankle aren’t a good match for police in riot gear. So we put our visit to Occupy DC on hold. But we sat quietly, took some deep breaths together, lit some candles and incense, and made pictures in our minds of the Occupiers being safe and protected.

Instead of Occupy DC, G/Son and I went to Washington Gardener Magazine‘s Seed Swap. We took envelopes of the woad and dill seeds that Nonna collected last year from her own garden, and a bunch of free sample seeds that Nonna got last year from various seed companies.

We registered and got our goody bag (G/Son kept the corn seeds and melon seeds and Nonna kept the chive and lettuce seeds) and raffle ticket. G/Son was v interested in the concept of raffle tickets, but he took it like a good sport when we didn’t win the box of seeds to grow lovely baby vegetables.

We answered questions from some of the volunteers who were sorting the seeds and came running up to us to ask about woad seeds. (Volunteer Ladies: “Do you grow them?” Nonna: “Yes.” Volunteer Ladies: “On purpose?”)

Then, we listened to Barbara Melera of Landreth Seed Co. (Landreth is America’s oldest (selling seeds since 1784) extant seed company. They’re in financial trouble. If you’re going to buy seeds this Spring, you could do some good by buying from Landreth. Just saying.) talk about America’s Love Affair with the Tomato.

While we were waiting, G/Son and Nonna talked about how G/Son doesn’t like raw tomatoes, but he does like tomatoes in pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and catsup. G/Son was captivated by the title slide that Ms. Melera put up before her talk that said: America’s Love Affair with the Tomato: a Story of Adventure, Passion, Commitment, and Nonsense. Since he’s learning to read, G/Son was able to read most of the words by himself. Nonna helped with “commitment.” And we talked about what that word means. A former reading teacher (it’s like a disease; we can’t help ourselves), Nonna got G/Son to anticipate what Nonsense could have to do with growing tomatoes.

When the talk started and Ms. Melera showed a slide demonstrating how tomatoes first grew in Chile, but were first cultivated in a country to the North of Chile, G/Son called out, “Wait! That country is Mexico!” And he was right; tomatoes were first cultivated in Mexico. The talk was twenty minutes long. Midway through, Nonna broke out the Lunchables that she’d brought for G/Son (I’m not proud.) But G/Son paid attention all the way through and was rewarded when, near the end, Ms. Melera explained the “Nonsense” part of her title. She told us how the green-striped zebra tomato (which G/Son and Nonna buy in the Summer at the farmers’ market,) was developed by a man who, as a young boy, wanted to grow a green tomato to throw at people to make green goo. G/Son and Nonna laughed a lot (in fact, a lot more than any of the other (all grown up) people in the audience laughed) at that idea. G/Son also paid attention while Ms. Melera talked about two of her (and Nonna’s) favorite tomatoes: the pineapple tomato and the Black Krim, which G/Son and I came home to trace on a map from Chile, to Mexico, to Italy, to Russia, to America.

In the end, learning about how to grow tomatoes and about how people and this full-of-spirit plant have interacted over the centuries is almost as political an act as Occuping DC. I’m an old woman, sitting near the edge of the cliff, tossing breadcrumbs back, as far back as I can throw them, for my G/Son. Some of those crumbs are learning how to take deep breaths and make pictures of protection in our minds. Some of those crumbs are a discussion, when watching Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, about how it’s important for the leader of the country to identify with the landbase. And some of those crumbs are just the way that I make herb tea with honey for him, look at him with approval so that he’ll have yet another experience of what that feels like, play board games with him in our pajamas on Sunday morning, show him how I collect blue jay feathers, and the way that we snuggle, after reading Redwall, before bed.

Here’s a great list of political books for young children. I think that G/Son and I will be reading a number of them over the next few months.

And, at some point, we’ll get down to Occupy DC. This little person is the son of a kick-ass woman who puts bad people in jail and a father who practices kindness as an act of politics. He’s the G/Son of a feminist and the great grandson of a labor leader and a Catholic Worker activist. I’m going to make sure that the bread crumbs that I throw back from The Cliff show true.

Just take your time, G/Son. Don’t grow up too fast for your old Nonna, or, do, but, if you do, throw (in the way that the universe is changing and the Noosphere is growing) some crumbs back for me.

Picture found here.

3 responses to “Seed Swaps with G/Son

  1. I sure wish I’d had a grandma like you. More important, I hope I can BE a grandma like you. 🙂

  2. What a wonderful, reflective post. Yes, the Wheel is zinging ’round its course–so astoundingly fast. I had to laugh about G/Son’s dislike of raw tomatoes vs. those cooked in certain dishes (and I’m not all about stewed tomatoes, but like all the rest)…one of my best friends (who turns 60 in March) always transfers the raw tomatoes on top of his salad directly onto my plate. No words are spoken–it is understood. One of the many rituals we’ve had for 30+ years of friendship, and no less a ritual than all the others in which I participate. Thanks again, Hecate, for raising such fine extensions of yourself.

  3. This was so sweet, thanks for sharing! I wish I had more time to do things like this with my son. He also hates raw tomatoes, but loves them once they’ve been ground into paste and seasoned! I think he gets that from his father.

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