Silver is the Farm

The farm this morning, the rain, the absence of shadow, light, except for what the blanket of cloud could not hold back, and the barn more decrepit than ever, felt bound by loneliness. Still, I am drawn to the fields, the buildings, the garden plot that’s been newly tilled, prepped for the seeds which soon will be planted— when this place will be lonely no more.

How does a garden grow?

There should be silver bells, no? No. But silver is here. Silver is the barn, it’s  corrugated-metal-patchwork siding, the windows; silver is the flagpole, the clouds, the puddles in little hollows, the birds, the greyed and brittle sunflowers. Silver, the color of storm. And storm is always followed by an awakening, an unfolding of new life.

Lily of the Valley—a white bell—blossom in early summer. Their creamy color and sweet scent is a lovely contradiction to the old and worn house whereby they root, surrounded by tall, lush green leaves. If one does not bother to look by the weather-stripped door facing the driveway, one will miss the gentle summer bloom of the tiny bells. Later, a rumpus of color will be found in the flower beds: roses, peony, iris, coneflower, lambs-ear, looking like one of Monet’s fields at Argenteuil. The passerby will want to stop and walk through it.

But April, grey April, highlights the barn. In darkness or light, it is a beautiful, broken barn, silver and sage, lonely and loved.

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On Germination

Of his younger sister’s (Wilhemien) literary work—a piece on plants and rain—Vincent van Gogh wrote:

 You can see yourself that in nature many flowers are trampled underfoot, frozen or scorched, and for that matter not every grain of corn returns to the soil after ripening to germinate and grow into a blade of corn – indeed, that by far the greatest number of grains of corn do not develop fully but end up at the mill – isn’t this so? To compare human beings with grains of corn, now – in every human being who is healthy and natural there is a germinating force, just as there is in a grain of corn. And so natural life is germination. What the germinating force is to the grain, love is to us.

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What the germinating force is to the grain, love is to us. I was thinking about germinating forces earlier this morning, as I peered into the brittle head—still bulging with seed—of this sunflower. Here, stubbornly anchored to the ground, you can see the force of which van Gogh wrote. The floret has gone to seed—either clinging to the disc, taken by the sparrow, or fallen to the ground (where, perhaps, taken by the goose), in which case it may end there, in some animalia digestive system. (Which is what happened this past spring at Franklin Farm, when the seeds were not buried deeply enough, and the birds, big and small, gobbled up the grain.)

On the other hand, should the seed make its way safely underground, we may see the sunflower, reincarnate, late summer next year. Overground, germinant, gold and giving.

What love is to us. Yes.

In Which I Explore Nature, Art, Photography…

Vincent van Gogh, sunflowers, Cumberland’s beloved Franklin Farm, and more.

An excerpt from my newly published essay, Devotion (you can read the entire piece online, page 12 at The Tishman Review):

[T]he sunflowers do tell a dyed-in-the-wool tale of the vagaries of time. The cycle of life. The land and the people. Sunflowers are at once beautiful and tragic: they are vivacious and bright, a bloating bloom of sustenance, a bee’s libation, a bird’s victual, and no sooner does the bee syphon its last bit of nectar from the crowded disc of florets than the sunflower sheds its last seed, curls inward and fades. Like farmers rolling hay in the field, they fold for the season.

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