On Germination

Of his younger sister’s (Wilhemien) literary work—a piece on plants and rain—Vincent van Gogh wrote:

 You can see yourself that in nature many flowers are trampled underfoot, frozen or scorched, and for that matter not every grain of corn returns to the soil after ripening to germinate and grow into a blade of corn – indeed, that by far the greatest number of grains of corn do not develop fully but end up at the mill – isn’t this so? To compare human beings with grains of corn, now – in every human being who is healthy and natural there is a germinating force, just as there is in a grain of corn. And so natural life is germination. What the germinating force is to the grain, love is to us.

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What the germinating force is to the grain, love is to us. I was thinking about germinating forces earlier this morning, as I peered into the brittle head—still bulging with seed—of this sunflower. Here, stubbornly anchored to the ground, you can see the force of which van Gogh wrote. The floret has gone to seed—either clinging to the disc, taken by the sparrow, or fallen to the ground (where, perhaps, taken by the goose), in which case it may end there, in some animalia digestive system. (Which is what happened this past spring at Franklin Farm, when the seeds were not buried deeply enough, and the birds, big and small, gobbled up the grain.)

On the other hand, should the seed make its way safely underground, we may see the sunflower, reincarnate, late summer next year. Overground, germinant, gold and giving.

What love is to us. Yes.

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