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When A Seed Becomes Itself

Updated: May 26, 2021

I walked into the Garden Department of my local box store and there they were: Burpee seeds

for arugula, carrots, and string beans and so many more––a farm-variety of seeds. My mother-in-law used to plant watermelon, collard greens and string beans from these packs in the lush soil by her home in North Carolina. My people have a peculiar relationship with seeds. Under duress, my ancestors, soil people themselves, were forced to prepare another’s soil, till another’s and and plant another’s seeds.

A woman carrying an infant on her back inspects the soil.

So, given the opportunity, many fled from toiling grounds to urban centers, to apply their talents

in soils of their own choosing. During the first wave of migration, they found themselves in other’s kitchens, factories, slaughterhouses, low paying menial jobs, but they paid for food and shelter. Now we flock to transportation, boardrooms, classrooms, offices and medical arenas etc.

We’ve lost contact with the soil, that organic matter of silt and clay, as essential for life as air and water. Some even recoil from it, yet we long for what it can produce. Besides the foods we eat, when the sun is high and the air warms, there is something about the color, shape and even the aroma of flowers that compels us who live in northern regions to rely on the very thing

our ancestors had fled.

Even if we know from the first chapter in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, “There

were no marigolds in the fall of 1941” because soil rebelled against injustice. But when that moment in time arrives when the stone of winter is removed from its tomb, “when a young man’s fancies turn to thoughts of love,” we depend on the power of the seed to nurture our eyes and our souls. Preparation is needed for the seed to become itself. The soil requires the proper nutrients and moisture.