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Cycles of Time

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Cycles of Time

Politically Incorrect in the garden and on the calendar

If it were given to me to make just one grand gesture to my community this year, I would buy everyone a pot with a Sun Gold, cherry tomato growing in it. When these beauties reach the ripening point, a person could be forgiven for thinking they were in heaven, because if heaven doesn’t have Sun Golds, then it isn’t the very best place to be. Let my gesture be just a tad bit larger, and that pot would also include a lettuce plant or two, because lettuce, like most garden plants, is a miracle. Harvest the plant from the bottom, just as soon as it’s large enough to start providing ‘baby’ lettuce leaves for your dinner table, and the thing will just keep on producing and producing… you’ll soon find it’s putting out so many lettuce leaves that you can barely eat it fast enough to keep up. The experience of growing these two plants alone is enough to make gardeners out of most of us.

And becoming gardeners would be a good thing, I think, because gardening puts us back in touch with one of the greatest time cycles to exist: the one that extends from seed to plant and back to seed again.

The basis of all civilizations, of course, has been the ability of people to distance themselves from this cycle. The first ingredient required for all civilizations to develop and grow was the ability to grow enough food that some people did not have to do the work necessary to feed themselves, and could therefore do other things – things we consider the hallmarks of progress. And the more a civilization grew, the fewer of its people were doing the required nurturing of seeds into plants and plants into food and food into waste that was recycled into soil that would again nurture seeds into plants. Historians will argue endlessly over what causes a civilization, at the height of its power, to suddenly fall apart and disappear. I can, myself, advance some pretty good theories and arguments to back them up: causes like environmental devastation, concentration of wealth, natural disaster, disease, war. But it’s at least worth considering that maybe, just maybe, at least some of those causes can only come about when too many people are too far removed from that first and most important cycle found in gardening.

Cycles will undoubtedly be a big subject in 2012, a time in which what by all rights should be an obscure time cycle – the Mayan Great Cycle – will no doubt play an important role. Somehow we seem to overlook the fact that ‘cycle’ – in Latin, cyclus and in Greek, kyklos – stands for a circle and indicates a pattern that repeats. The Mayans didn’t seem to conceive of a cycle that ended without another cycle beginning, a fact that undoubtedly will not bother the end-of-the-worlders in the least.

We seem to struggle with that concept of renewal and maybe we do so because so many of us do not garden anymore. We are so out of touch with the world we live in that somehow we overlook the fact that the sun rises after it sets, and that our reward for enduring the long, dark, cold days of winter (admittedly, not much to endure yet this year) is the thrill of new growth peeking through the snow come spring.

It is interesting that the Mayan’s Great Cycle resets itself at a time when we as a global people are dealing with the consequences of being out of sync with natural cycles. As we get up in the morning and turn on the coffee maker, check in with our friends and acquaintances on Facebook, run a nice, hot shower to throw off the remaining effects of sleep and prepare to face the day, we are insulated from the extractive processes that allow us to do all those things. We fail to recognize that cycles involve limits; when we reach the point of consuming more than can be replaced (a point we may have already passed) we will find ourselves in a different cycle, one that we may not like very much. 

Personally, I am looking at the end of a “great” cycle for myself this year, as well, as I reach the age of 50 or, as I like to think of it, the end of the first half of my life. I must admit to some difficulty in thinking of myself at this age because at 50, it’s hard to get away with calling yourself “young” anymore. At the same time, you’re pretty sure that “old” is not a good descriptive word, either. “Old,” in fact, is still reserved for my mother, because once your baby turns 50, I think describing yourself as ‘middle-aged’ also doesn’t work well.

Also part of this year of the cycle, February will mark a leap year, and another birthday for my father, though I don’t think that counts anymore as he’s been gone since 1985. It’s a big one for him, though—were he still alive, he would celebrate his 21st actual “birthday.” Interestingly enough, my baby also celebrates (has celebrated) her 21st this year—welcome to adulthood, Amy! 

Did you know that we’ll also have a leap second this year? Yep, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (Bet you didn’t even know that existed. I know I didn’t.) in Paris has declared a leap second will be introduced on June 30 this year. These are the people who are the final arbiters for time for all of us, and they have a good reason for adding a leap second, but it’s too complicated for me to want to explain right now. You can Google it if you really want to know!

More exciting, this year will also mark the tenth anniversary of the Angels Over Sandpoint’s production of The Follies. I was lucky to be a part of the first one and am hoping to be a part of this one as well (of course, I have to write the script first, something that, for all ten years, I’ve managed to put off until the very last minute). 

This year, it looks like the Angels will be doing the Follies (different shows) for two separate weekends in early March. Please take the time to buy a ticket for one of the shows. The Angels do a lot of work to support people in our community, especially those who are facing a diagnosis of cancer, and the financial devastation that can come with the same. Last year, the Angels were able to provide $80,000 to support the people in our communities, and the need is still growing. The Follies is the major fundraiser for the Angels, and by purchasing tickets, buying drinks at the show, and putting money into the donation condoms (yes, over-sized condoms... if that throws you off, skip the ticket and write a check instead because the show might give you a heart attack) you are helping to make a difference for many of our friends and neighbors.

Go ahead, give! What better could you do in the “last” year?

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Author info

Landon Otis

Tagged as:

gardening, Angels Over Sandpoint, time, aging, Trish Gannon, The Follies, Politically Incorrect, Sun Gold Tomato, Mayan Great Cycle, renewal, limits to growth, 50, leap year, leap second

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