I read somewhere (memory fails me as to where!) recently that many people in the East find it strange that we in the West are so obsessed with doing and give very little time or value to not doing, stillness and just being. I see this as a feature and result of the capitalist and patriarchal society I feel that we live in. A society that constantly encourages competition, gain, production, expansion, power, measured success; “bigger, better, more”.
I see these characteristics as being represented in nature’s cycles by the waxing moon (new-full) and by the waxing half of the year, which climaxes this weekend (in the northern hemisphere) with the midsummer solstice. I’m not meaning to diss them here; such characteristics are all very essential for change and for the growth of ourselves. our ambitions, our knowledge, our plants, our societies etc. Yet there is the other half that completes the cycle; the waning moon who’s cycle we’re now in, and the time from the summer solstice to the winter one. Indeed it can be easy to overlook these phases – after all, the waning moon comes up in the sky after many of us are asleep. And do we expect to see it in the morning? My experience – and memory – is that we have the idea that the moon is out at night and that most illustrations of the moon show it as a waxing crescent or full moon.
And summer – everyone loves and looks forward to summer! Now I’m not suggesting that loving summer is some patriarchal evil, it’s more that I see myself as a bit of an advocate for winter, which I think gets a little demonised. I know cold is a genuine hardship (especially for those without adequate heating, or in super-cold places) but summer can bring its challenges and, in my experience, anticlimaxes from all the expectations we put on the weather! Perhaps its that many of us shy away from the introspection and inner work that winter invites us towards. Again, I see our view of the cycle as not being one of two equally-valued halves. I could extend this to the female cycle too – menstruation isn’t honoured by many in our society in the way that many other cultures do. And indeed to our own life cycles: I think we’re a pretty ageist society. Thankfully, I feel that many people are becoming more aware of that and that it isn’t fair.
I thought about all this over the weekend whilst I read an article in the current issue of lovely Taproot magazine about seed-saving, and whilst looking at our purple-sprouting broccoli. (Behold the broccoli):
Sure we enjoyed watching it grow. We certainly enjoyed eating several of the florets! We’ve also enjoyed watching what happens if you leave a few florets, as we chose to do. I’m so glad that we’ve been able to watch this other half of the cycle – there’s so many vegetables that I still don’t know what they look like in flower (and beyond) because, as Ken Greene the seed librarian interviewed in the Taproot article says, “we’re used to interrupting plants at their most delicious or beautiful moments. But there’s a whole life cycle beyond that moment.”. The purple-sprouting flowers are adored by the bees, pretty to look at and yummy in a salad (or straight off the plant, like my toddler does!). We can see little pods on the plant and hope to harvest the seeds before cutting down and composting the rest of the plant. Then we’ll dream again, plant again, nurture again, celebrate again, harvest the crop again, watch it go full cycle again, harvest the seeds again, compost the plant again…and on and on and on. ♥