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  • Kelly Marks

Wild Flowers

I spent yesterday morning putting mulch in my garden. It keeps the weeds down and the moisture in. I’m very proud of the aesthetic this year. I think its design is very interesting, both geometric and organized.


This is one of my favorite times in the garden. Everything is up, but it’s still neat and orderly. The seeds have sprouted and pushed through the soil, but their exuberance has not taken over yet, and the contrast between the bright green of the plants and the brown of the mulch surrounding the new plants is stunning.


I hear a lot of people talk about the fact that their parents were hippies or granola-loving-tree-huggers; mine were homesteaders. They grew about 80% of the food we ate. The garden was about an acre in size. It produced truckloads of corn, bushels of tomatoes and more green beans and peas than were able to be quantified.


It was a lot of work, and I imagine that whatever help I was, came with a hearty dose of resentment and a childish sense of unfairness. I was less than enchanted with the setup. I tried to convince my parents that everything they GREW could be purchased at the store without all the effort. This is probably the reason that after all the attitude I had growing up, my mom is still shocked that I like to garden.


Seed-droppers is a phrase that has come to my attention recently, and it ties quite literally to gardening and also to the more philosophical ideas of growth and truth. I love the idea of people dropping “seeds'' wherever they go.


I remember hearing stories as I was growing up of Johnny Appleseed - the man who turned up spreading apple seeds everywhere he went. It seems it was more legend than factual, but he would still count as a seed-dropper.


A more current and accurate example would be Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady and wife of President Lyndon Johnson. During her tenure in the White House she worked with conservation efforts and launched the Highway Beautification Program. Its aim was to protect wildflowers, to beautify, “to bring the natural world and the man made world into harmony, to bring usefulness, order, delight to our whole environment.” Lady Bird Johnson was both a literal seed-dropper and also a metaphorical one. She planted the ideas of conservation and beauty in places all over the country.


Recently I was driving to Winston-Salem to visit my folks, and in certain parts of the highway I saw a large field of pink, red, and white poppies, and a little farther I saw another large section filled with purple, blue, and white lupines. The beauty of both was stunning. They made it a very different trip. Instead of looking at the cars and the speeding traffic or for police-initiated speed traps, I was looking for the next flower patch. Maybe not the best idea in terms of safe driving, but I wonder how many other drivers were affected? I wonder if Lady Bird ever anticipated the program having such far-reaching results?


It all got me thinking of the other kind of seed-droppers. Those people who come into our lives and drop ideas or thoughts. They leave them to germinate in our hearts or our minds. There are others who try to force information or beliefs on us because it fits their agenda, but then there are those who share a quote or ask a question that begins our search for truth. What a difference they make in our lives, who we become, and what we believe.


Of course, all of this means that we ourselves are seed-droppers. Are we forcing our agenda or are we planting ideas? Are we just adding concrete to the world around us or are we, like Lady Bird Johnson, beautifying it? Do we plant weeds or wildflowers?



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