February 21st, 2010

I went to an amazing workshop led by the poet David Whyte this weekend, and when I came home after the last session today, I pulled out this print by Olivia Jeffries that I bought on Etsy a year or so ago and decided to use it again but in a totally different context this time. It was on my mind because I realized I’ve been asking myself for months now, “What am I looking for?” and trying to push my way through to an answer right now. And for months, I’ve come no closer to finding it, becoming more agitated and frustrated as time went by. But at some point during this retreat, my question changed to, “What is looking for me?” That is a huge shift for me, because it suggests that there is a calling waiting for me that I need to spend time preparing the ground for, but not trying to force into bloom like paperwhite bulbs in the dead of winter. I’m only two months into this Year of Change that I’ve declared for myself, but just making it an official pilgrimage, if only to myself, has made me attentive to all sorts of messages coming to me from seemingly random sources that I might have ignored a year ago. A year ago I wouldn’t have signed up for, didn’t sign up for, this transformative workshop when it was offered. A year ago the poems that were read might not have lighted up the darkness for me in the way they did this time. A year ago I might not have been ready. But looking back, I can see that all the while, the field was being prepared in the darkness, the seeds being planted. The search that I’m on, the big decisions and change that I’m aiming myself toward, seem a bit less arduous and maddening knowing that while I have work to do on my part, something is looking for me as intently as I am looking for it.

3 Responses to “Searchlight”

  1. Stephanie says:

    I’d hope to get to that workshop, or part of it, but was maybe more where you were last year. The shift you write of is profound, and promising. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t wait to see what it turns up.

  2. Henk Brandt says:

    Suddenly, I was inspired
    to share with you this lovely list of heirloom seed names,
    which struck like a brilliant list poem of spring.
    French breakfast radish…a world right there, isn’t there?
    Countrysides appear, a sleepy, thin yellow light,
    the perfect crusted bread,
    the dark roast coffee on the table,
    one viney, purple flower in the cracked vase,
    your lover asleep while you walk barefoot across the cool stone tiles, happy in the quiet way of dormant seeds.

    When William Beekman built The Beekman Mansion in 1802 he was almost certainly selling Landreth Seeds in his mercantile located across the road. Landreth was the largest seed producer of the time, and is currently celebrating its 225th anniversary. This collection of 15 different heirloom seed packets represents varieties that have been grown in the Beekman gardens over the centuries, and that we still grow today.

    Each packet is illustrated with vintage seed illustrations from the Landreth Archives.


    LONG GREEN CUCUMBER – A direct descendent of the extinct “Green Turkey,” dating back to the 18th century.

    YELLOW PEAR TOMATOES – Small, sweet, pear-shaped variety dating back to the 1600’s.

    PURPLE TOPPED TURNIP – Purple above ground, and cream below. One of America’s first garden staples.

    BLOOMSDALE SPINACH – A Landreth introduction in 1826, it’s still the most popular non-hybrid spinach sold today.

    BULLNOSE or BELL PEPPER – Introduced to the US in 1759, peppers were originally used mostly for pickling.

    NANTES SCARLET HALF-LONG CARROT – A French variety introduced to America in the second half of the 19C.

    GOLDEN BANTAM CORN – Sweet flavor and longer ears made this a mainstay of late 19C American gardens.

    DWARF GREY SUGAR SNAP PEAS – Very early producer, thought extinct until the late 1970’s.

    FRENCH BREAKFAST RADISH – Introduced in 1879, rosy red with a bright white tip.

    GREEN HUBBARD WINTER SQUASH – Originally from the West Indies or South America, distinctive Hubbard flavor.

    BUSH BEAN BOUNTIFUL – Introduced by D. G. Burlingame, Genesee, New York at the turn of the 20th C.

    EARLY JERSEY WAKEFIELD CABBAGE – While introduced in the 19th this cabbage has been popular right through modern times.

    SMALL SUGAR PUMPKIN – Also known as ‘New England Pie’ this variety is still a favorite among heirloom growers and chefs.

    BRANDYWINE TOMATO – The ‘original’ heirloom tomato that sparked the heirloom craze. From an original strain.

    CRISPHEAD ICEBERG LETTUCE – What the supermarket lettuce wishes it could be. From the early 20th C.

  3. nikki says:


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