An Ode To Earth
July-August 2005
The last traces of snow had not yet completely disappeared from around the house that, already I felt an irresistible urge to dig into my flower beds and search for signs of life. I couldn’t wait to curl my fingers into the rich, dark soil, and to put my hands to work magic in my garden. Springtime was calling, and with it, its multitude of seasonal rituals. First, remove any weeds that have occupied my land without permission. Then, with great humility, sprinkle a few seeds and watch their progress. Lend Mother Nature a helping hand. Then, there’s the obligatory shooing away of the neighbour’s cat! And waiting. Patiently waiting. And finally, the most beautiful sight of all, an army of little green seedlings timidly piercing the soil, ready to bloom. Let’s not forget the requisite swearing against those wormy intruders who’ve taken their share of my little green warriors. But my faith remains unmoved. And once again, I am in awe as I witness the ground come to life.

In a world where precision and immediacy rule, my relationship with the earth is a haven. Basic gardening has achieved a level of therapy for many of us. Primarily because it activates parts of our brain that are not usually solicited by more intellectual work. It’s also because it takes us back to the earth’s energy force: it literally revitalizes us. And finally, maybe even particularly, because gardening teaches us a lesson in humility, reminding us that we can’t control everything around us. I could follow every step, every direction given in the course of a horticultural class, and yet there is no guarantee! If Mother Nature doesn’t lend a hand, the resulting crop could be very disappointing. Working the soil is accepting to work outside one’s comfort zone, investing time and energy without the certainty of results. Come to think of it, working the soil is like working at any other worthwhile project, such as friendship and love: they need constant attention, safeguarding and patience to finally harvest their fruit. Do your best and hope for the best.

When you read these lines, ladies and gentlemen and tenders of our earth, you’ll have your hands full. Between calving, loads of hay and fixing the machine that just broke, you’ll be plenty busy. You’ll probably be saying to yourselves: Where the heck did she come from? But I stand firm on my views. Even in 2005, nature’s beauty remains awe-inspiring and its mysteries unfathomable. Although science can explain the how, the why remains elusive. We can only watch in amazement.

Too often, we tend to forget to exercise our ability to admire, to acknowledge the good and the beautiful.

And yet, all we need to do is stop once and a while and contemplate the splendours before us. To all of you who are the salt of the earth, who are known for being no-nonsense and priding yourselves on simplicity, you are in fact privileged spectators. When working the fields, take the time to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you and allow yourself to be imbued with its therapeutic virtues. Because, in spite of the profound transformations affecting today’s agriculture, you still have the best seats in the house when it comes to relating with the earth. You are the guardians of this sacred bond, of this life force that links humankind to the bounties of earth. Never forget what a great and noble task you have! I know it’s challenging and oftentimes unpredictable, and I agree it may even be troubling. All the more reason to be proud. Hard work is your motto and you haven’t built your heritage out of fluff – agriculture is no place for the idle.

Oscar Wilde once said: “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” If this is true, each of us is responsible for what lies before us and for making it… wonderful or wasteful. It’s up to you! As for me, I choose wonderful. Now I’m off to rule my land!

Colette Lebel, agr.
Director of Cooperative Affairs
La Coop fédérée
Fax: (514) 858-2025


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