Alexandra Duncan

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Feminism.

STEALTH ZUCCHINI AND THE LONE SUNFLOWER

Remember my tiny little zucchini seedlings? Well, they've exploded into this:And today we found our first zucchini! Our friends had warned us the zucchinis would sneak up on us in the night, that we wouldn't find them until they were monster vegetables, so I've been checking every other day. Still, this one managed to grow to the size of a well-sharpened pencil before I noticed it.

Sunflower row isn't going nearly so well, because our neighbor's cat and the caterpillars are conspiring to dig up and eat our plants, respectively. Nevertheless, one sunflower has managed to survive so far:
Even though humans have been cultivating plants for thousands upon thousands of years, I'm still amazed the tiny teardrop of a seed I buried in the earth a little over an month ago has turned into a living, growing sunflower. In theory, I knew it should, but at the same time, the way this one plant has grown and the knowledge that it will produce hundreds of seeds capable of growing others just like itself seems magical - even miraculous - to me.

At one time, I was a very religious person, but an unhappy one. What I learned about God divided me from the world, which was full of sin and wickedness, and from people, who were either believers or unbelievers in need of being saved.

I stopped going to church because I reached a point where I couldn't reconcile the idea of a compassionate God with one who would provide one - and only one - way to reach him.

But now, by the act of planting this garden and tending it, I feel more connected to other people alive in the world and the generations of people who've lived before me than I ever did when I went to church every Sunday. How many of them must have done something so simple and essential as planting a garden or tending crops? Did they feel the same as I did the first time they watched a seedling push its way out of the earth and survive - awed and protective? Did they feel the same instinctive desire to cultivate this fragile, tender thing?

I've read that astronauts, on seeing the earth suspended alone in space for the first time, suddenly feel a profound euphoria and recognized the interconnectedness of all life on our planet. I think I must feel the same way when I watch our sunflower grow. I like the idea that this sunflower will grow seeds capable of making more sunflowers, and so on and so on, even after I'm long gone.

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