The Hard Work Of Waiting
Have you ever planted a seed in the ground? You stick it in the earth and wait. If you give it water and make sure it has enough sun and good soil, it will sprout. There are two minuscule leaves that first appear. Do you know what they are called? They are called cotyledon. Once they have stretched their little green selves as far left and right as their little arms will go, the next set of leaves arrive. The first set look different than the rest. Spinach makes long slender leaves. Kale, little round guys. Basil, a heart shaped set - of course! A cucumber's first two leaves sort of look like a cucumber, very unlike their other leaves.
I love to watch those leaves appear like a miracle. It will be another 60-90 days before the flower and fruit appear.
During that time, we can't give up on those precious leaves. They are vital nutrients for the entire plant. They are tender and fragile. They need just the right amount of water and heat and sun. Too much or too little and they will shrivel.
With consistant water, heat and light, we can eat kale and spinach within two weeks. The squash, cucumber and tomato will take all of those two months. But what about the oak tree? Even the oak starts as two tiny leaves.
Thirty years will pass before those two leaves turn into shade on a summer day. Oh but that shade!
So we wait. We wait ten days. We wait two months. If we want to eat asparagus, we have to wait two full years for the plant to mature and create food to eat. An apple or orange tree will supply us with a harvest in five years. But they all start with two tiny leaves. The cotyledon.
This spring, I've sort of had a bit of an obsession with these cotyledon. I even catch myself saying the wild word in the middle of dishes, school work, laundry folding, running, or cooking.
I've taken pictures of every cotyledon I see. Even the poison ivy. It starts off as three leaves. I've done my research. There are no two leaf poison ivy cotyledons. They are hell from the very beginning, but at least they give their warning. And on top of being three leaves - the tell tale sign you've encountered the devil himself disguised as a leaf of three, the three leaves are red! They are warning us - stay away!
Seasons of wait push us. They change us. Our entire focus can become something entirely different. We might buckle down to hold on for the ride. We might reach out around us. We feel scared. We have lost. So many have lost. Jobs, income, health, and even loved ones. It is super scary to walk this road. I can't even comprehend the loss that so many families feel. It is beyond me the time and energy and care doctors and nurses and the lady at Walmart who delivered my groceries so thoughtfully into the trunk of my car are giving.
I have four children, two cows, two sheep, two pigs, one cat, and 100 chickens that need food everyday. Managing their food supply is a full time job right now. Managing a day again at home isn't that different for us, but for so many, you are sprouting your very first cotyledon.
We all are. These little tiny leaves are so fragile. They require more than we ever imagined to stay healthy and alive and strong.
Our journeys look so different like those first two tiny leaves. But we have to try and make it to the next set of leaves. For our families and our children and our friends and our world.
Last night, at 3:00 a.m., the winds were so strong that I was awake in an instant. I remembered that we had piles of precious sprouts outside. My sudden wild movements woke George and we stumbled down the stairs and into the darkness to collect trays of cotyledon and piles of new tomato starts and bring them into safety. Then we found buckets and containers to put over the tops of the ones in the ground and hunted down bricks to secure the buckets from the wind. At 4:15, we crawled back into bed. When the roosters and kiddos reminded us it was day, the dreary fell heavy. Our youngest is five now, so it's been some years since a baby kept us up in the middle of the night. But our baby plants did. Our food did.
Your cotyledon might be homeschooling for the first time, cooking more than ever, working from home with littles, working from home alone, waiting for food, waiting for test results, waiting to get work. We wait together. And hope for the next set of leaves.