Collecting seeds and planting dreams.

At the end of last year, I went to our local library and bought a huge stack of castaway magazines from their donation section for 25 cents apiece. I sat down with my husband, a couple of pairs of scissors, and a glass of wine, and snipped out all the images and words that called to me for my 2018 vision board. Have you ever heard of making a vision board, or dream board, for the new year? I have only made a few, but the statistics on success have been relatively staggering for me: Everything I’ve put on my dream board has always turned into reality. The idea for a vision board is quite simple–put everything you hope for on a board and look at it often. The act of being so concrete about your hopes and visions as to actually paste them to a board and set them in plain sight is a first step in cementing your goals and deciding to work toward them.

The whole process is fun and all the images and words free up your mind. I’ve sat down before and thought I would search for particular things that fit within my dreams at the time and I’ve discovered a whole slew of goals that I hadn’t considered before. One year I thought I would place “writing” and “publishing” all over my dream board and instead it was full of food and community dinners and kids playing together. And that’s what my year was about–adventure outings with kids, huge fun dinners, starting a permaculture garden at our last house, forming community groups, and going camping with friends at every opportunity. It’s funny how our unconscious selves sometimes need art and music and words (and maybe wine?) to surface and make themselves known.

And the thing is that our hopes and dreams can actually be as concrete as a tiny seed that we plant in rich soil and watch grow into a vibrant and gorgeous plant–its shape and texture and flavor unknown until all the elements have gone into its production and it reaches its leafy self up to the sky and presents itself as a beautiful talisman, a cumulative offering containing all the sun, soil, water, and hard work it took to grow. The two processes of dreaming and planting are mirror images of each other. First we have to find the seed. Then we have to plant it and tend to it until it sprouts. Then we need to harvest it and present or preserve it. So it is with our hopes and dreams.

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On Tuesday, I went to our local gardening store and bought a whole bunch  o’ seeds. 83 packets to be exact (my daughter just counted all of them for me). I bought nearly all of them from my favorite seed company, Sero Biodynamic Seed. Their seeds grew beautifully last year. Sero Seed currently only sells their products in retail stores, and I was glad to put our money toward a local store that I love. I still have more to buy, but this is a great start. I found nearly everything I wanted, except for arugula and spinach and a few squash varieties. I THINK. I might be missing some. But I have SO MANY SEEDS: Veggies, fruits, flowers, food–hurray! Now I need to find all the herbs for my herbal tea garden, and set up the area for our secret berry garden.

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Let me share a few of my favorite tomatoes and you will swoon, too, if you just taste their names on your tongue: Jersey Devil, Cosmonaut Volkov, Indigo Rose, Brandywine, Stupice, Black Tomato, Gold Nugget Cherry Tomato. And these peppers: Ancho Poblano, Jubilandska, Rosso, Staddon’s Select Sweet Pepper. RIGHT? Yum. Can’t you picture summer’s harvest and the bowls of freshly chopped salsa and plates of soft corn tacos topped with this decadence?

Also, these: Heirloom Tuscan Baby Leaf kale. Haldor Leek. Heirloom Blue Boy Cornflowers. Dukat Leafy Dill. Pride of Gibraltar. Mesclun Salad Blend. Miner’s Lettuce. Provider Bush Bean. Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard. Blacktail Mountain Watermelon. And maybe my favorite in name alone: Glass Gem Corn. The description of this corn kills me: “This stunning heirloom popcorn produces a treasure trove of colorful corn that glows with the splendor of stained glass. A must-see to believe, Glass Gem’s jewel-tone kernels range from pale white, gold, pinks, reds, purples, greens, blues and oranges. Magnificent plants tower 6-7 feet and taller, often producing 3 or 4 ears each ranging from 3-8 inches long. Glass Gem grinds into tasty cornmeal or pops into white, fluffy popcorn for snacking.”

When I was a kid, we had a dear family friend who had the most amazing garden. Gail was a Native American older man who lived on his own in a small cabin. He kept a metal strainer filled with corn chips on his potbelly cast iron wood stove that were always hot and crispy and salty. My sister and I would devour them every time we visited. He read the newspaper every morning and drank dark coffee and canned all his food and kept it all in a separate underground storehouse outside. Whenever he left the house, he would set his homemade house alarm: An old suede gardening glove attached to a string across his door with all the fingers pressed down except the middle one. He had an old mare who carried me on her back until she tired of me and swept me off her bony back with a purposeful brush with an apple tree.

Gail grew some of the most beautiful cabbages, tomatoes, and Native American corn varieties that I have ever tasted–chewy, colorful, toothsome corn that you ate fresh from the pot with or without butter and a dash of salt and pepper. One year he joined us for Thanksgiving and I remember him arriving at our doorstep in his usual attire: Flannel plaid shirt, worn Dickey’s pants, blue bandanna, and an armful of huge cabbages wrapped in newspaper and beautiful, multi-colored dried corn that my mom incorporated into a welcome wreath for the front door.

Every time I am told that it is difficult if not impossible to grow corn in our cool NW climate, I remember him and the piles of beautiful corn that he served us and dried for the winter.

My neighbor here, a man from New Orleans, told me I need to plant my corn fields with the Holy Trinity: Corn fields with runner beans climbing the stalks and squash filling in the ground below. Come harvest time, all your friends and neighbors gather and make a giant pot of bean and squash stew, listen to bluegrass music, barbecue something fabulous, and shuck ears of corn before a big feast.

YES. If I can manage to grow corn even slightly as good as Gail’s, then I will be happy. If we can manage to have several feasts around our old picnic tables in our fields surrounded by music and friends, then at least five big dream board wishes will come true. The rest, as they say, with some work, will take care of itself.

 

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