May 19, 2021

Growth, Decay, Growth

Early spring: the time of year when I spend most of my time in the vegetable garden, preparing rows, planting seeds and home-grown seedlings, weeding and weeding again. It is also a time when I am struck with wonder at the miracle of it all: the seeds germinating, the growth patterns, the yearly emergence of asparagus spears, the delicious fruits and vegetables I'm able to grow. 

Although I do understand––a little––about DNA, it still seems remarkable that this teeny broccoli seed, put in soil and watered, will grow into the broccoli plant in the first photo; it is mind-boggling to think about it.

These more recognizable seeds of corn will grow into six foot tall plants. Of course other life forms, including Homo sapiens, have tiny beginnings, all wondrous. 

Working in the garden, and walking in the woods,  also reminds me that decay has a major role in the life cycle. A compost pile is a clear lesson in how scraps of food and plant remains can be transformed over time...

,,,,into a nutrient rich soil supplement.

In a more natural way, years of decaying plant material creates a forest floor welcoming to new plants and trees. 

Over a long period of time I've seen an old pile of logs become more and more part of the forest floor, covered with mosses and lichen, small plants, and young trees; it is now a mound of new green growth, softened in outline.

The plant-covered pile of logs above began just like this one, and I expect that in several years these bare dead logs will be covered with plant life.

Decaying tree stumps are also hospitable to new plants, which create a lively mix of greens, and rich textures.

Many mushrooms grow on dead wood, such as these hemlock varnish shelf mushrooms brightening a tree stump. 

Decaying trees support more than other members of the plant family, and fungi: when I see wood chips scattered over the forest floor, I look for the telltale holes made by pileated woodpeckers drilling for insects. I've often heard the loud rat-a-tat-tat of these large birds hammering in the woods.

This cycle of life to decay to new life reminds me of John Cage's words: 

The world, the real is not an object. It is a process.                                                       


No comments:

Post a Comment