Peter woke up one morning, the sun was shining and from the window he saw the garden starting to green and laughing. March is still fresh. His dream moved 8 miles high, a rip of a rocking electric guitar was still in his ears, the psyche was sensitive. Slowly and gently, upon waking up, he landed onto the slope called Mother Earth. What hasn’t he experienced in his dreams? The world seemed endless, peaceful, colorful to him, to be discovered in its depths. And yet not real, not tangible, strange, just a dream. Afraid of losing ground? Not for Peter, because: “Today I’m going to the garden and not to school. We are free and we want peace in the midst of all the man-made wars ravaging the world. Not being told what to do, but deciding for myself what I want to do,” says Peter in thought. “My hands want to feel the earth, my nose to breathe in the scent of the grass, my eyes to enjoy the plants, my skin to catch the spring freshness. Immerse yourself in the world of the garden, without prohibitions, street signs, asphalt paths, but in a world full of secrets, fantasy with an earthy smell.
He jumped out of bed, run into the shower, got into his gardener’s clothes and sent the sick note via text message to the school. The door to the shed swung open, welcoming him. He picked up the pickaxe, the small shovel, picked up the box of pea seeds that was on the shelf in the dark corner of the shed. The expiry date showed that it was in order and his stomach was already looking forward to its harvest, because peas with spaghetti with fresh sage leaves was one of his favorite dishes. The soil was tilled, the peas planted one by one, a marker set up to find the planting again. In the garden Peter spoke without strangers, but with friends the plants. Here he felt himself, without all the influences of the others, the adults, the precocious.
Peter placed a pea seed in his left hand, the hand connected to hearts. What did he feel? He made a fist, gripping the peanut tightly. He focused on what it was trying to tell him. A marvel, a creation, responsibility, light, union of mind and body, taste and health. Everything is in there: the life of many plants and suddenly a very specific pea comes out. What a life force comes out of such a small thing. Peter feels the origin in his hand and briefly falls back into dreaming.
In the garden he could talk to all the plants, tell them what he was up to and he asked the others to accept the peas as a new neighbour, as a nitrogen supplier and soil loosener. In contrast to signs and fences, which stand alone in front of and for themselves, the plants live with each other, communicate and exchange many things. They live their lives in harmony with the soil and the weather, which surely plays many tricks on them. Peter also knows that growing is better when we work together. He wants to be part of the garden.
He learned from his horticulture teacher that the long roots of the peas loosen the soil so that it can gratefully absorb water and air. The roots release their excess nitrogen and carbohydrates into the soil, thus also feeding the neighboring plants. The soil thus serves as a storage medium for the climate-warming substances CO2 and nitrogen oxides. In this way, Peter learned to experience the cycle of nature, into which he would like to integrate. He talked to the pea seeds about compost, soil cover, soil fertilizer and climate storage. The seeds confirmed to him that their related family of legumes help on all these points. “Dear Peter, we will give you wonderful fruits in pods, the funny, rolling peas, which you can eat fresh, that’s how they taste best. Full of proteins that give us energy that makes people and animals happy,” they whispered to their garden friend. Peter knew we could dry them and keep them for months before soaking them in water for 12 hours and then cooking them. This means that you can eat delicious rice with peas even in winter.
The garden is colourful, the sun is shining and a sense of well-being spreads. As soon as Peter left his paradise, the world seemed gray to him. Specific urban noise filled his ears and the comforting warmth was gone. The cold of reality washed over him. He thought, in the streets we are feeling empty, even if they are full of people. “What else can happen to us: everything. Every step is a gesture of the accidental comedy of world theater. Quickly get back to the garden before the tanks come, before shooting or killing. Plants don’t form armies, they stand still, they are rooted, they don’t move from their place. But the seeds, the peas, roll away when the husks burst at the peak of their maturity. The wind, animals and people transport them somewhere else. Chance wills it. Seeds have an urge to spread, so the peas don’t all grow in one spot, crowd each other out, perish from overabundance or lack of space. Life disperses,” so it went in his head, he talked to the pea seeds before he carefully planted each one in the ground. Peter grabbed a book about legumes and read, that the legume family with flowers looking like butterflies and which includes the genus Pea has many lovely plants. All of them working together with Nitrogen-fixing nodule bacteria, mycorrhiza and other fungi combine to improve phosphorus supply.
As he learned from the book, peas are cultivated in many countries. Coming from Asia Minor to Portugal, across Europe. What a journey, Peter marveled. Perhaps his grandfather, who traveled a lot by train and also by plane, helped, in which a pea that had fallen into his jacket in the garden settled down when taking off his jacket through grandfather’s journey in the distance. People distribute seeds. The husks explain that they belong to the legumes, but do the butterflies in the garden come from their flowers? That’s his thoughts and giggled to himself.
The plants laughed at him and Peter laughed back, what kind of byways can be found in the garden, informal ideas, between being together and being alone, away from the tumult of the media and the real world. Being in the garden was a respite for him, taking deep breaths and massaging the soul in anticipation of the delightful sweetness of the ripe peas.
Stefan Doeblin, Living Seeds, Portugal