As I age, I want to notice what I think I have already seen. As the planet ages, I want us all to notice what we think we have already seen. Otherwise, we go to seed without seeding.
I once saw the deep-blue wine berries of fall differently than I had seen them before. Often considered a weed, they are blousy and fat, dominating and unplanted. They look like those shelves in antique stores where blue glasses and vases and pitchers cling together for color.
The berries have a way of getting whatever nourishment they need wherever they are. More leaf than berry, you have to sleuth the blues. They self-plant and self-seed, the way environmental activist Vandana Shiva says Indian women did before Monsanto tried to criminalize their sustainable skills.
The same weekend I had seen fall watercress in the market. I hadn’t seen watercress for years, not since one Pennsylvania dawn when the green challenged the white snow on the ground. I realized that I know joy in the morning and the watercress, the weeds and the blues.
When I give myself the time to notice what I have already seen, I often get to the refreshment stand, where I can drink gladness without paying for it. The green of watercress and the blue of wine berries may be all I need to remember. That, plus my time and place, my here and now, my then and again.
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So many of us have spiritual Alzheimer’s. Many of us fear we are the last generation, with the last seed. We remember when the mail came in envelopes or you had to get up to change the TV channel. We even thought of eventually writing a memoir, although many think they are for dead people who have all their scores settled and are enjoying them from their rocking chairs.
When blue wine berries and green watercress can still surprise us, we aren’t dead and our scores aren’t settled. We are just saving our seed. I may be 66, but I am an early feminist. I may be an aging hippie, but I prefer the title “senior hippie.” I was well advised to tell my grandchildren to call me Bubbe instead of Grandma. “Grandma” would make me feel old, “Bubbe” would amuse me.
You get my drift, coded in apologies for having gotten old while I wasn’t looking. I still want to be the next Verlyn Klinkenborg. I want his perch as a country writer to whom city people listen. Or to be the chaplain at Google and let them know how much pastors know about privacy and confidentiality. I want to retire without becoming retiring, age alert to blues and greens.
I want to know a season as well as a fall wine berry does. I want to emerge from the cold with the courage of the water’s cress. I want to be able to remember without distortion and to save seeds, knowing one time and place is always yielding to the next.