I just read Wendell Berry's essay, The Work of Local Culture. Though I quake at his admonitions of a disconnected and reeling society, I am heartened by his reflections on what counts in this world.
In this particular piece, he speaks of a galvanized bucket, which for long as he can remember, has hung on a fence post on what was his grandfather's farm. Mr. Berry, now an elder gentleman himself, has never passed by the bucket without a peek inside, a regular ritual he has maintained for decades of walking the farm.
He says, "for what is going on in that bucket is the most momentous thing I know. The greatest miracle that I have ever heard of: it is making earth." Autumn leaves, rain, snow, nuts, insects and birds have each left their deposits. Berry notes that the resulting black hummus is "an artistry of farming superior to his or any human."
His metaphor now is thankfully in my bucket and yours as we consider the growth of a whole individual which, though painstakingly slow, is assured if we maintain an open lid and release the particulars.
I had my own experiment this year after acquainting with fresh tarragon, an herbal taste, - cousin to licorice. Buying seeds to scatter close to the back door, I subsequently forked over rare, but respectful attention.
The plant has awarded me with yellow flowers for cutting and countless servings of above the fray examples in the name of scrambled eggs, chicken salad and now salad dressing.
So, surprise. It seems that I have over thought what it really takes in life. For all my educated ignorance, there has been a loving intelligence superior to anything I had to offer. And now I know, that to receive such power, you must honor place and hang out your bucket.