Tag Archives: Spiritual Practice

How to Plant Goldfinches in Your Garden


My new seeds came today.

Well, some of them. Optima lettuce (a kind of butterhead lettuce), and lovelock lettuce (with splashes of red on the leaves),and forest-green curly parsley, and flat-leaf Italian parsely, and sweet Genovese basil, and Russian mammoth sunflower (which I grew last year, and which is truly giant, and which the birds, especially the goldfinches absolutely love; I’d grow it again just for the joy of watching the goldfinches for long stretches in the Summer sunlight). I’ve ordered from several other seed companies, but Seeds of Change got here first, a welcome surprise along with the bills and circulars that my mailman trooped up the steps to deliver.

The garden is still asleep under a foot of snow and the meteorologists are threatening another cold snap next week (with maybe more snow — but I’m going to hope VERY HARD that they’re wrong about, at least, the snow part). So it’s too early to go outside with my trusty green-handled trowel and dig holes in the dirt and plant seeds. (To be honest, I’m kind of longing for the feel of my trowel in my hand. A friend sent this one to me years ago and it feels just right in the palm of my hand. It has a pointy scoop, and wicked serrated sides, and it’s really a joy to use.)

But I may, this weekend, when all the snow has melted between my back door and the garden shed, go get some little pots and some soil and start, well, maybe the basil inside, just to get to plant something. Basil will transplant reasonably well; the first several years that I gardened, I bought basil seedlings and transplanted them, until I learned how easy it is to grow from seed. And I have enough seeds to sow several plantings worth so that, all Summer long, as I harvest the basil for pesto, or to eat with mozzarella and tomatoes, or to chiffonade into Sunshine tomatoes, which I eat by the gallon from Lughnasadah through Mabon, I can scatter more seeds and have recurring crops.

Gardening, it occurs to me, is like spiritual growth. Sometimes, it can seem as if the work is just work, as if we’re waiting a long time for something to “happen.” When the garden’s covered with snow, all we can do is sit inside and plan, order seeds, clean and oil our tools. But sometimes, just a little thing can give us the boost we need to go on.

A small, successful dance with one of our shadows. A meditation that restores us. A moving practice that leaves us with that good soreness in our muscles, bringing us back, each time we stretch or stand up, to our purpose in doing the work.

Lettuce, parsley, basil, and sunflower seeds. Knowing what to start inside. A memory of goldfinches, on gold flowers, in the golden, Summer sun.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.