Deep Time and Habanero Peppers
BY BECCA KRASKY
On a recent Friday evening, I started pepper seeds in one of the empty bedrooms at my house: Early Red Sweet, Early Jalapeño, Tolli’s Sweet Italian Pepper, Beaver Dam Pepper, Carnival Blend of Sweet Peppers, and Orange Habanero. I only needed to start a few plants total, but reminded of last year’s pepper disaster, when I didn’t know pepper seedlings needed compost and thus produced the most wimpy, unable-to-withstand-the-scorching-sun-of-Denver pepper plants (only one of which survived the season), I went slightly overboard and planted six varieties.
We only need a few orange habanero plants, so I put those seeds in a tray next to the Carnival Sweet Peppers. I promptly dropped the tray face down on the carpet. There I was, laughing, realizing that Habanero seeds look the same as Carnival Sweet Pepper seeds, and of course, I’d spill the Habaneros, the only variety whose seeds I’d just used up. So, I replanted all the seeds I saw, back in the tray. As I wait for the seeds to germinate, I’m ruminating on parallels between life and seeds. You think you’re planting a beautiful Carnival Sweet Pepper but might end up with Fiery Habanero. Sometimes two options look the same on the surface, two pepper seeds, but will have wildly different outcomes.
I’ve been part of the Loretto Earth Network Coordinating Committee for most of my time as a Loretto Volunteer. Each year, the group picks a book to reflect on, and we rotate leading reflections at the beginning of our monthly meetings. 2021’s book is Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane. Underland is a poetic, thrilling examination of the Earth’s underworlds, with the intention of bringing to light what is beneath our feet. Each chapter focuses on a different underworld - the first few have been caves, potash mines combined with underground physics laboratories, and mycelium. In the introduction, Macfarlane explains that “At its best, a deep time awareness might help us see ourselves as part of a web of gift, inheritance and legacy stretching over millions of years past and millions to come, bringing us to consider what we are leaving behind for the epochs and beings that will follow us” (15). I’m wondering, how does a human lifetime fit into deep time? How does my lifetime fit into deep time?
I’m feeling a deep soul magnetism towards organic, regenerative agriculture. Perhaps some of this is the uncertainty, the challenge, wanting to repair and heal my communities, my soils. Some of this attraction is a rebellion against what society expects of me, not wanting to spend the majority of my waking life behind computer screens and in Zoom meetings. What does a deep time awareness in farming entail? Blessing the soil, honoring the cycles of life and death and life again, thanking the rain that comes not-frequently-enough in our perpetual drought. Laughing with my coworkers and community members as we all grow older, smiling as the children of Angelica Village grow alongside the peas. Embracing the lessons, giving gratitude to Earth, honoring this “web of gift, inheritance and legacy” and my unique place within.
Becca Krasky is a second year volunteer from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Becca works as the Sustainability Coordinator at Angelica Village, a nonprofit intentional community that houses refugee and immigrant families and youth. She has found her niche in growing food, at Angelica Village, her own backyard, anywhere there's a patch of earth and some seeds. Her newest projects are seed saving, mushroom growing, and permaculture design. When she's not in the garden, Becca is probably in the kitchen, baking bread or cooking.
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