64. Seeds

Published on 31 March 2024 at 08:52

© 2024 Robert Sickles

There’s a simple story about the tiny mustard seed that grows into a great bush. It’s the parable where Jesus reassures his followers that a small number of the faithful can become a multitude, or metaphorically, that a little belief can achieve great results.

A “Seed Thought” is a clever reference to planting an idea in hopes of seeing it become widespread. “Seed Money” is the same idea for investing in a business venture. Your team gets “Seeded” in a tournament, meaning you are placed, or planted, on the schedule chart according to your ranking, as though the event is organized like rows and categories on a garden plan.

Such a small thing is a seed, yet so much symbolism for hopeful beginnings.  I am a gardener by nature and therefore gullibly accept as true all the good metaphors and similes about seeds, and live inside my own seed parable that honors the seasons and the cycles of planting, cultivating, and harvesting.  I have some kind of ethical aversion to buying vegetable plants in pots—I am a purist, a seed starter.

I’m always ready for The First Day of Spring, my time of ridiculous garden optimism. Yes, I realize it’s Western Washington; cool, wet weather can last until the 4th of July here. Plus, I have a fairly shady garden plot in a woodsy hollow. But I still feel a rush of infatuation when the seed catalog comes, and I entertain inane ideas, like “maybe melons this year.” The catalog arrives in January with gorgeous photos and promises of beauty and bounty. The folks down at the seed warehouse must recognize me every year as the very first customer to send in an order!

I do have some successes with many crops— cukes, green beans, kale; sometimes squash, tomatoes, chard to name a few. The harvests have never been like the seed catalog photos… why should I be surprised?  After all, the growing season is always fraught with setbacks of Biblical proportion: drought, flood, hail, plagues of vermin and pestilence. My little seedlings, my “babies,” go out into the cold world, often to meet a merciless fate. Of those that do survive through summer, a few will have been shriveled or rotted, nibbled or infected, starved or trampled beyond appetizing.

I am renewed and restored when I’m in the garden, truly it’s my church. For me, gardening is a journey, not a destination—I enjoy the quiet time and daily chores, and savor my successes, however small. We thoroughly enjoyed that scant yield of raspberries last year! Donc, le cycle de la vie.

And now, to the other sense of “Seed.”

Yes, there is hopefulness in the word seed as a synonym for fruition. They set aside some of last year’s wheat to plant this year for more wheat. But seed, a word expressing optimism at the small start of something big, can also refer to the demise at the end of it. Your perfect child can grow into “Bad Seed;” you have “Seeds of Doubt” about your life; your nice home and acreage can “Go to Seed;” and you wind up a “Seedy” bum.  Hmm. 

Maybe when they plant my body in the cemetery and say “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” I want them to include “seed to seed” to express the cycle of my life. It’s so Zen, the positive and negative swirled together and naturally balanced.



By the way, these cute shelling bean seeds are named “Yin-Yang.”

All of us are Gardeners! O Ye of Faith, go plant some seeds of hope on this Easter Sunday, 2024.

Add comment


3 months ago

Oh yes, the house literally buzzes with hope when Robert receives his seeds in the mail and starts organizing his garden on paper. The little babies are begun in his office where he has grow lights to get them on their way to be transplanted when (hopefully) the chance of frost is gone. Today we had trimmings from the lettuces he grew in his green house and covered boxes. Yum! How blessed we are!

3 months ago

I think you grow some seeds you haven't talked about here. A gardener is a gardener and you should enjoy what you grow. :)

3 months ago

Best post yet, Robert.