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By Marshall McClung
There is something about the spring of the year that causes us who were born close to the soil (and some who weren't) to experience an overwhelming urge to go dig in the earth and plant something. Why is this? Was it the fact that many of us came from a farm background or is it more?
Our ancestors, Adam and Eve began life in a garden, the Garden of Eden. This is the first record we have of a garden being planted. In the second chapter of Genesis, it is recorded that God planted a garden in Eden and put Adam in it. Earlier God had given Adam every herb, tree, and seed. It is further recorded that God put Adam there for the intent purpose of him dressing or cultivating the garden, so you might say that we were farmers from the very beginning. Does this explain our closeness to the earth?
After the curse was placed upon man, the weeds, thorns, and thistles became something we would have to contend with. But an even greater connection of us with the soil was mentioned by God when he said we were made from the dust (earth), and to it we would return when we die.
In the earlier days in Graham County, a sure sign of spring was a farmer plowing up the ground with a team of horses. Gardens in those days played a much bigger part than they do now. Today, a garden may be just a hobby or pastime. But in earlier days it was a matter of survival. You lived on what you could grow or raise. Most produce found in the supermarkets of today would not have been stocked in the stores back then. There would have been no market for it as folks grew their own. Even if this produce had been stocked, people would not have had the funds to purchase it, as they bought only what they absolutely had to have and could not grow or make themselves.
Gardening and farming is becoming a lost art like many of the other pioneer skills. A large number of the younger generation would not know how to grow a garden and can and preserve the harvest it produced. Many households purchase all of their fruits and vegetables from the supermarket the year round. But what if it were to not be available? What if the supermarket shelves were to become bare as is the case often in less fortunate countries? Those who keep up with such things say that the average American household only has enough food to last a week or less at any given time.
Earlier Graham County residents knew their very lives depended on what they could grow. It was serious business. Fertilizers pesticides, and insecticides used today were not around then.
This meant larger areas of ground had to be tended to produce enough for the family to survive on. Many farmers planted faithfully by the "signs". For those of you who may not be familiar with this, it is referring to the signs of the Zodiac. During the course of a year, the sun, moon, and planets appear to be within a 140 band in the sky known as the Zodiac. The Zodiac is divided into twelve constellations so that every month a new constellation would appear in the eastern sky. This sequence is repeated every year with a slight variation due to the fact that the earth wobbles on its axis. Before the advent of calendars, time was kept by marking of a month each time a new constellation appeared.
So in a way, we are going back to our very beginning when we plant a garden. Ecclesiastes says that there is a season, a time to plant, and a time to pluck that which is planted. The Song of Solomon contains what is considered to be a vivid description of spring: The winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come.
I hope the love of the land and a closeness to the soil never dies out. If and when it does, we will have lost something irreplaceable in this life.
We are all gardeners in one sense. We are all planting some crop as we live our daily lives; be it a crop of love, friendship, honesty, and faith in God, or a crop of hatred, suspicion, or indifference. We should remember that the Bible tells us that we will reap what we sow. What crop are you planting?
Our life can be compared to a garden in a sense. We begin as a microscopic seed planted in the womb, we sprout, reach maturity, and are harvested and replaced by another crop, another generation.
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These pages are from the people of Graham County, North Carolina.
For additional information on Graham County Adventures
the Travel and Tourism Authority or
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This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina