“People here expect a revolution. There will be no revolution, none that that deserves to be called so. There may be a scramble for money. But as all the people we see want the things we now have, and not better things, it is very certain they will, under whatever change of forms, keep the old system. When I see changed men I shall look for a changed world. Whoever is skillful in heaping money now will be skillful in heaping money again.”
- Robert Frost, on his trip to England in 1848
Here’s what I learned sweating all day in vegetable gardens on a Spring day heavy with heat and the promise of more to come. Robert Frost explained something to me.
His message still works. It sounds like Reverend Bob thinks we should change ourselves before we try to change the world. It will take changed men to change the world. That’s an old familiar Theology 101 cliché.
But he adds a capitalist twist wherein it’s money that changes and revolutionizes men. If those other guys only want the same crap we want, well then, crap. I love the way Frost insults people as venial as me, while ostensibly disparaging the veniality of those other people.
While I garden, I become entirely responsible for new growth, for seeds to blossom, for perennials to reawaken from their winter’s sleep. By nurturing these fragile seedlings now, I change the world. They grow into nutritious sustenance in consideration for my careful attention.
Which brings me to what I learned from my garden as I contemplated Frost. I learned that gardening is a way for me to change myself for the better.
And as for capitalism, I make no pretense that my vegetable garden saves me grocery money. It’s simply that by wanting more than store-bought tomatoes this summer, I’ve become one of the people who want better food than we now have. I want a sweet tomato. I know that the tomatoes I harvest later – from the two inch seedlings I watered this morning – will taste better and feed me better. And as for capitalism, in my garden, I learn that it’s definitely better for me (and my tomatoes) to heap compost than to heap money.
Growth is change, and nowhere is this more evident than in a garden. As my garden grows, I grow.