Today I planted artichokes...
...and all I could think of was To The Lighthouse.
All of a sudden I remembered the chapter when the Ramseys leave the house, the house is completely deserted, and the garden ends up taking over... In the "Time Passes" part... In the absence of the family, the plants completely overtake the house, and these GIANT ARTICHOKES grow tall over everything... over the toads and swallows and tortoises that crawl in the grass...
The image of that chapter came flashing back so strong as I planted this little baby artichoke, that I got lost in the vision of the giant purple towering artichokes, and wondered how this little thing would ever grow to be that big...
When I got home I looked up the passage. Here it is... "The house was left; the house was deserted. It was left...to fill with dry salt grains now that life had left it. The long night seemed to have set in...Toads had nosed their way in... A thistle thrust itself between the tiles in the larder. The swallows nested in the drawing-room; the floor was strewn with straw; the plaster fell in shovelfuls; rafters were laid bare; rats carried off this and that to gnaw behind the wainscots. Tortoise-shell butterlies burst from the chrysalis and pattered their life out on the window-pane. Poppies sowed themselves among the dahlias; the lawn waved with long grass; GIANT ARTICHOKES towered among roses... which made the whole room green in summer" (137 Woolf).
That has been playing in my mind on repeat all day long, all because I planted an artichoke.
It's funny how simple little experiences can remind you of a whole novel!!
But then I looked down at this baby artichoke, and pondered how could it possibly grow to tower among roses... Does it want to be left on its own, deserted? That doesn't make sense, because it obviously needs me, the person, to plant it, care for it, give it water and fertilizer... But yet the Ramsey's house, once deserted, was completely taken over by artichokes... and nature.
So then I thought, how much to plants and animals really need us? Do they need us just as much as we need them? Since we're all part of nature... I think...
They obviously do need us. A baby turkey died today. We don't know why, its food and water were full to the brim, there were no wounds, and the other baby turkeys were just fine.
But it died. What had it lacked?
"What power could now prevent the fertility, the insensibility of nature?" Virginia Woolf asks on the next page. Once deserted by people, nature flourished on the Ramsey's property... plants and animals took over everything... "Nothing now withstood them; nothing said no to them. Let the wind blow.... let the swallow build in the drawing-room, and the thistle thrust aside the tiles, and the butterfly sun itself on the faded chintz of the arm-chairs" (138 Woolf).
But even if nature doesn't need people, I think we need nature. That's why farming is important... because it keeps us close to nature. Which feels healthy.
(And of course, people are just as much a part of nature as any artichoke, though we often forget).
So I guess I need this baby artichoke more than it needs me.
But I returned home today and realized I forgot to water all my plants in my own garden, and they've all died, from too much sun and no water. So I guess they do need me somewhat. I can't believe I killed my plants... I keep forgetting how much power I have, which is often turned for the worse.
(We also made cheese today. That is a long process, and it was great... very fun... I got to taste curds... but I will write about it later. We used different cultures this time, apparently they will turn the cheese many different colors, maybe even rainbow types when it begins to mold. Yianni drilled a hole in the top of the lid to stick the thermometer through, for the milk. Very resourceful).
The hens were super happy when I gave them their food. They all ran up to me and climbed on my feet. I petted them for quite a while. They let me pick them up and pet them. They're so soft. I'm going to miss them next week.