Recently I met two young women farmers who are the granddaughters of farmers. Their own parents ‘escaped’ from farming with the idea that they were providing a better life for their children, but those children found their way back to their roots anyway.
There is something deeply satisfying about cultivating the earth, planting seeds and watching them grow, and harvesting your own food. It takes work, knowledge, care, and patience, and taps into the deep magic of the universe. I would posit that we have perhaps lost something essential to our humanity in our move away from the homestead and into the cubicle.
A friend posted this on Facebook the other day: “At the end of Candide, Voltaire states that the only way to be sane, reasonable, and ordered in a world of disorder—to survive the horrors of tyranny and of the world—is for one to ‘tend his own garden.’” Candide and his companions had come across “a good-looking old man, who was taking the air at his door, under an alcove formed of the boughs of orange-trees.” He was unaware of some recent political machinations that had occurred, for he said, “I am entirely ignorant of the event you speak of; I presume that in general such as are concerned in public affairs sometimes come to a miserable end; and that they deserve it: but I never inquire what is doing at Constantinople; I am contented with sending thither the produce of my garden, which I cultivate with my own hands. I have no more than twenty acres of ground, the whole of which I cultivate myself with the help of my children; and our labor keeps off from us three great evils—idleness, vice, and want.”
I love this idea. While I don’t suggest we completely bury our heads in the sand and check out from political awareness, I wonder what the world would be like if we each tended our little patch of Earth, cared for our community, and read good books. Would we have the time to lust after power or the desire to grab resources or the need to subjugate other human beings if we were concerned with our own 20 acres into which we poured our toil and sweat and love and out of which we harvested our sustenance and joy?
The more I think about it the more I wonder if this is what heaven will be like, going back to our roots in Eden where we were charged with stewarding as gardeners. I think it sounds divine.
Rachel Womelsduff Gough and her family ditched the city for a patch of earth in the Snoqualmie Valley. Cheered on by her husband and two blonde babes, Rachel learns by getting her hands dirty, whether it’s gardening, chicken farming, canning, neighboring, or adventuring with soulmates in wild places. She reads constantly, and can’t live without coffee, flowers, and classic mystery stories.