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Monday Photo Meditation: Growth

Corn Stalk Close-Up Resized

It is the last day of July; tomorrow begins the last full month of summer, although the season itself extends well into September. This is the fullest part of the season, that pivotal stretch between planting and harvest.

It’s the time of growth.

My own people have always recognized this time for what it is: a midpoint, and a time of flowering. It’s reflected in our words; this time is known variously, depending upon region, as either the Berry Moon or the Halfway Summer Moon. And the berries are indeed flowering, tiny wild raspberries suspended momentarily in the patch, until the grasshoppers find them. This year, the small jumping spirits have overtake everything, and it’s impossible to keep up.

The flowers, wild and otherwise, are similarly reaching their peak — a few are even past it, petals already dropping to the earth. The sunflowers are blooming early this year, too, suddenly tall and strong beneath the kiss of the rains. Alfalfa and clover and thriving, along with mullein and other medicinal plants, and every kind of grass imaginable.

But the crops have their own cycle. Planting comes in May or June, depending on the weather; this year, it was the latter, given spring’s long cold unwillingness to depart. Cultivation is normally reserved for the latter half of June and all of July, weeding and tending and speaking or singing to the plants. By mid-July, most years, we are able to harvest the early summer foods: lettuce, carrots, peppers, summer squash, sweet corn. Most of the remainder continue their cycle of growth until late in the season, or into the autumn days beyond.

This has been no ordinary year.

The cold dry weather kept the seeds on this side of the soil far longer than usual. By the time we were able to plant, we had to adapt our usual patterns, sowing the earth with more kernels and seeds than usual for fear that only a fraction would take.

Apparently, we need not have worried.

The corn is slightly lower than it usually is at this time, and yet, it has begun to rise far faster than in years past. That is due to no special hybrid, no chemical application, no growth hormone: It’s only the newly-abundant rain. We are blessed here with good loamy soil, the kind that makes for fertile mounds and rows, and each of the Three Sisters has responded with fecundity.

The corn, however, is special.

It is already higher than expected after so few weeks, standing tall and strong, stalks straight and leaves flowering in graceful arches. The silk will appear soon, and by this day next month, we will likely have ears of sweet corn, and possibly an early few  of the colorful jewels known as Indian corn. The larger harvest will wait for September and October.

For now, there is growth, and plenty of it, and that is enough. It’s a lesson for we humans, constantly with fighting the natural order of things, obsessed either with attempting to control destiny or with the fear that we have somehow sidetracked it completely. But life is not one linear path; life is many things, and so is its harvest, and indeed, there are many harvests throughout. The time at which a seed is planted is perhaps less important than how well it is watered and how thoroughly nurtured, for these are what foster growth.

And growth, of course, is both path and destination, a means to an end and an end in itself. Sometimes, it’s useful simply to do as the corn does, to bask in the sun and the winds and the rains, to stand and turn and dance in the process we call growth.

~ Aji










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