A time to plant, I swear it’s not too late
Graham R. Cooper
Turn! Turn! Turn! Song by The Byrds To everything (turn, turn, turn) There is a season (turn, turn, turn) And a time for every purpose under heaven A time to be born, a time to die A time to plant, a time to reap ...
Pete Seeger added a few words to the Old Testament verse,* and in the mid-1960s ‘The Byrds’ turned it into one of the most popular songs of all time. Seeger’s key change was to emphasise the need for peace by adding, “I swear it’s not to late” after, “A time for peace”.
In this post, I emphasise the need to plant vegetable seeds: “A time to plant, I swear it’s not too late.” I cite no less an influential figure than the eighteenth century French philosopher Voltaire to back me up on this:
Il faut cultiver notre jardin.
Or as the contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton elaborates: “‘We must cultivate our garden’ or as it has variously been translated, “‘We must grow our vegetables’ or ‘We must tend to our lands’ or ‘we need to work our fields'”.
Botton goes on to ask what Voltaire meant by this gardening advice. His explanation is wide-ranging, but I’ve cherry-picked to bolster my “A time to plant, I swear it’s not too late” call to action:
We should never tie our personal moods to the condition of a whole nation or people in general; or we would need to weep continuously. We need to live in our own small plots, not the heads of strangers. At the same time, because our minds are haunted and prey to anxiety and despair, we need to keep ourselves busy. We need a project. It shouldn’t be too large or dependent on many. The project should send us to sleep every night weary but satisfied. It could be bringing up a child, writing a book, looking after a house, running a small shop or managing a little business. Or, of course, tending to a few acres. Note Voltaire’s geographical modesty. We should give up on things at a national or international scale. Take just a few acres and make those your focus. Take a small orchard and grow lemons and apricots. Take some beds and grow asparagus and carrots. Stop worrying yourself with humanity if you ever want peace of mind again.https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/cultivate-own-garden-voltaire/
In my head it used to be qualified: “If all else fails, cultivate your garden.” Especially when things were going pear-shaped, either on a personal or on “a national or international scale” – or both!
Nowadays I am more likely to wholeheartedly embrace the spirit of Voltaire’s advice – without the demeaning “last resort” qualification. I’m “writing a [blog] … tending to a few acres [and] a small orchard”. June’s learning how to play the piano, helping with grandchildren … “tending to a few acres … looking after a house … grow[ing] asparagus and carrots”.
Next Monday I’ll tell you about the vegetable seeds she’s been planting: “I swear it’s not too late.” Just what is going on beyond those asparagus and carrot beds?
*Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Seeger added the title “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (which is repeated throughout the song), and “I swear it’s not too late”.
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully till next Monday. Thanks for your company. Bye for now.