So rather than making myself crazy staring at my electronic connection to the virtual larger world, I went outside into the real larger world--nature--and spent time in the garden.
I was giving the asparagus bed what may be its last soak for quite a while when I discovered that the plants which I wrote about in a post about optimistic gardeners last May have apparently decided it's spring all over again. The two largest clumps of asparagus have sprouted shoots as fat as my thumb, and one shoot is already several inches tall. Those asparagus plants think it's spring, not a few short weeks from winter.
The way the asparagus life cycle usually works, the roots, which are the larder storing the sugars produced with the previous summer's sunlight, send up shoots as the soil warms in spring. These fat stalks emerge from the soil and turn green in sunlight, ready to grow tall and do their solar energy harvesting, using sunlight to power a chemical process of making sugar in order to replace the fuel used for the orgy of cell division that pushed them up from underground.
New shoots follow these pioneers, handily producing more food, and thus more fat shoots which eventually mature into tall and feathery stalks, until the days quit growing longer. Then the plant goes into pass-on-my-genes-for-the-future mode and the feathery branches sprout tiny flowers (males and females on separate shoots, relying on the wind to assist in the act of fertilization). About that time--early summer, usually--the plant figures it has stored all the food it needs, and its shoots brown off as the roots go dormant. The following spring, when the soil warms again, they begin the lickety-split cell division that pushes new succulent shoots up into the light and air.
But it's mid-fall here in the southern Rocky Mountains, not spring. I don't know if these asparagus shoots can survive the freezing weather ahead, but I know this. Their effort, optimistic as it may seem, is the asparagus equivalent of believing in a world of possibilities. And last night's election certainly demonstrated to me the power of seemingly small actions like cell division--or voting--to work miracles.
So I'm going to watch those asparagus shoots. They may have something to teach me.
Oh, and the hornet's nest? "The Patriotic Thing to Do," my latest op-ed for High Country News landed on the front page of their web site and stirred up quite a hornet's nest of comments. (It also went out to 80-some newspapers with their Writers on the Range syndicate.) Here's how it opens:
Maybe I’m crazy, but I think that paying taxes is patriotic. And I’m tired of hearing Americans, especially Westerners, whine about their tax burden.What does that have to do with the community of the land? Read it and see! (Here's a clue: it's about the nature of community.)