I have lots of seeds. Friends gifted some to me, while others were saved over the seasons from my own produce and flowers. I’ve ordered plenty of seeds from catalogs and then there’s this super sweet little organic farm down the road where I’ve collected quite a few packets over the past couple of years. Believe it or not, I’ve even snagged seeds from yard sales and thrift stores.
One thing I know about seeds is that they are not all created equal. Some of them are time-tested heirloom variety seeds that have consistently and successfully been producing fruit, vegetables or flowers for generations upon generations. Much like an antique piece of furniture or lovely, priceless piece of jewelry these seeds can be passed down to our children, grandchildren and the planet at large.
Other seeds are created via hybridization. In many cases, hybrid seeds have been perfectly formulated to bring two different species together in an effort to breed only the most desirable traits. When nature is manipulated for commercial purposes such as this, one is unable to save seeds from one year to the next. Although the yield and bounty might serve us well for the season, we are forced to go out and buy these same seeds once again in order to enjoy the same vegetation the following year.
I’ve been thinking about this lately. These two types of seeds can serve as a metaphor in the life we choose to lead. I’ve come to conclusion that an heirloom lifestyle looks and feels very different from that of a hybrid lifestyle.
I picture a hybrid lifestyle as being packed full of immediate gratification, flying high on the moment, loving that quick fix of fleeting joy. It fills your tank for a few miles, but then you putter out on the side of life’s highway, looking and waiting for someone or something to fill your tank up again. Just like the little hybrid seed that grows so quickly, producing a vine that flourishes with an abundance of beautiful cucumbers or melons. The harvest is wonderful and delicious and filled with excitement while it lasts. But if you want that feeling again, if you want to harvest those fruits again, you must go back out and purchase the seeds again. It’s not sustainable. Hybrid seeds don’t last, so they can’t keep feeding you like an heirloom seed can. Just like someone perpetually seeking happiness, they are overlooking the ways to embrace prolonged joy and peace in their lives. Instead they just keep filling the void with a person or a purchase, a fleeting high or a temporary fix of some sort. Like the hybrid seed that will never flourish or return on it’s own, a hybrid lifestyle will only feed you for a season. But then you are back at it, shopping around for the next season’s temporary bounty for a temporary harvest of happiness and peace.
When I think of an heirloom lifestyle, I picture a quality of life and a richness that permeates every aspect of our existence. It not only reaches deep into our own spirit, but it also touches the souls of the friends and family who come to visit and spend time with us. An heirloom life tells a story, season after season for years and even generations to come. It is a brawny tree towering over the edge of the driveway that started out as just a stick in the ground one lazy Saturday afternoon many spring’s ago. It’s a door jam scribbled with messy measurements from year after year of children who just keep growing. An heirloom life is filled with charred circles in the backyard from countless bonfires and worn wooden floors from years of early morning shuffles to the kitchen for coffee or our beloved pet’s claws clicking across the room. Sitting alone and a loved one comes to mind, a smile spreads across your face when suddenly that memory from that “one time” creeps in and you fall apart in laughter. The book you have read four times already, the song that takes you back to that night at the beach or that morning on the mountain top, that old recipe card covered in butter and chocolate fingerprints, your favorite coffee mug, the smell of decaying leaves on a fall day, the familiar sting of a sunburn on your shoulders or that ever-so-dependable intro that comes on the public radio station right before your favorite program starts. It’s discovering tears on your pillow after waking from a dream where your old Grandpa came to visit or spending a day sweating over the stove top, canning pound after pound of handpicked fig preserves all the live-long day. It’s looking around my house one afternoon and realizing that the color red pleasantly pops in every room. I don’t know how else to describe it, other than it’s simply unconsciously placed, oblivious yet purposeful décor. Red is my favorite color and it always finds it’s way into everything I do and see and create.
There are countless varieties of heirloom seeds, just as there are countless ways to live an heirloom lifestyle. Take some time to look around you. Find the seeds you have planted and acknowledge the ways they are flourishing in your heirloom garden of life. If you don’t find them, invest in them. Whatever those seeds might look like, they are worth sowing and growing and they will feed you for a lifetime.