"Forests keep disappearing, rivers dry up, wild life's become extinct, the climate's ruined and the land grows poorer and uglier every day."
Anton Chekhov, Uncle Vanya, 1897
Passive voice is something I really like, provided it’s not aggressive, like Checkhov, ranting about how man is more of a destroyer than a creator. Using passive voice can be a way to cleanse a story of it’s angst. It wraps sad memories in a soothing blanket of distance, softening painful recollections of bad times.
It helps us to express difficult things without attaching blame: My friends, harsh words were spoken in anger. Mistakes were made. Toenails were trimmed. Hair was set on fire. Feelings were bruised, and so were soft tissues. Threats were made; carried out impulsively; and then regretted tearfully. Toast was burned. Promises were broken, and so were fingers. The Boze was dropped into the bath water. Ledges were jumped off from. Or were they pushed off of?
Gardening this time of year is like speaking in passive voice. Sweet pea seeds were sown yesterday in silent hope for a fragrant Spring. Tools were sharpened and tucked lovingly away. Frequent breaks were taken, the coming season was smelled in the breeze. My back was not burned by the sun. Tasks performed were more like puttering than active gardening.
At the end of the day, the first of my mail order seeds were sorted and put in the cool, dark, dry wooden tool box where seeds are stored. Mail order bulbs were delivered and stored in the bottom drawer of my fridge, cooling for 8-10 weeks before being planted. The smell of root beer, and my grandmother’s basement was detectible in the boxes of bulbs.
Today, it’s more like summer outside, and there will be more such days before the rains come and the leaves are done falling. But for now, I feel like I have begun to learn – as I do again each year – to wait passively until the seasons turn and I can play outside in the yard again on a regular basis. Meanwhile, bread will be baked. Doll house construction will be resumed. Seed catalogs will be perused by the fireside. And miracles will be worked silently, underground, by Mother Nature.