Happy Birthday

I lift a heavy, smooth stone close to my chest and set it down hard on top of another with a metallic clap.

As I weed, my fingers encounter a small rock and I fling it into the dense green grass.

The tiny pebble in my shoe under the arch of my foot has soured my mood on a sunny stroll.

Throughout these examples, I think of the stone as a single, inert object.  And a stone can stay static for many hundreds of years if left in a dry, shaded place. Exposed to the ancient elements: wind, water, fire, earth and the new elements of the periodic table, as well as all the living things, each stone begins its metamorphosis into the only thing that can grow our food: the soil. So in a way a stone is the source of our nourishment.

In the darkness of space a cloud of cosmic dust and gas collapses into a compressed ball of energy, a star. Whirling chunks of rock, dust, gas, and ice conglomerate to form planets, all spinning within the gravity of the star. Moons form to spin around the gravity of the planets. Molten magma inside our planet flows from the inner sanctum to the outer world and transforms the crust of the planet. The effects of all the elements and living things on the planet weathers this rock into sand, which is broken down into silt, and then finally clay. Clay, and humus, attracts and holds nutrients in chemical bonds and allows plants to access them. Plants can then grow, using these nutrients, water, and carbon dioxide to photosynthesize. The plant breathes out oxygen after this process, and we breath it in to fill the bellows of our lungs so that we can utilize this gas to eat these plants and use their energy. We breath out carbon dioxide. We live and grow by breathing, eating, and drinking and the plants live and grow by photosynthesis, and one main building block of our constant renewal is nitrogen which comes from the sky via the rain. Rain carries this element to the ground, and some plants, in a symbiotic relationship with bacteria, can utilize this nitrogen in order to convert it, in the photosynthetic process, into proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, the carbon-based biology they need to live and reproduce, and we use these calories to do the same. And this has all come from space dust and an invisible force called gravity. That is one way to look at it.

So when I remove a stone from the garden, I am removing the heart of the earth, the hot molten soul of our planet solidified . Sadly, my rototiller doesn’t seem to get this poetic analogy, so I remove the stones from the garden. But I still wax on as I plant, cultivate, weed, harvest, eat, compost, and do it all over again every year. Each year the only thing that seems consistently  the same is that everything is always changing. Gravity calls and patterns emerge and remain for a time and evolve.

These are just some of my thoughts on the eve of my 34th turn around the sun. These are thoughts that I think as I walk to the garden, sometimes while I am in the garden, but of course some of the time I am without thought, and some of the time I am sweating and swearing at the tenacious plants we call weeds. Right now I think : If time and the elements can weather the heart of the earth into the dust that nourishes our every moment of life, then maybe time and the elements can do the same to our own hearts, and we can help nourish others. If a chunk of granite can become the soil, and the soil can become a sunflower, anything is possible.

 

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