When was the last time you planted a seed? I don’t mean in the metaphorical sense of fostering a new idea or laying groundwork for future developments. I mean an honest-to-goodness little piece of intricate fibre in plain old dirt. For me, it was in late February when I had had just about enough of winter’s cold grasp and found myself daydreaming about summer’s long, lazy days. I imagined myself making a glass of lemonade and standing on my balcony, enjoying the bright green abundance of the trees in the park below. Of course in midwinter the trees were bare, it was too cold for lemonade, and I did not dare step foot on my frozen concrete balcony. But I had a lemon, at least I had a lemon.
I got five seeds from that lemon, and in an impulsive move I packed them away neatly in a little cup of dirt that had been sitting on my bookshelf since some other unlucky houseplant succumbed to the cold and dark of my apartment. I did not google what position to place the seeds, I didn’t engage in any ritualistic performances to encourage growth. I just left them to themselves, only watering occasionally.
Two months went by, and no signs of life made me wonder if I was just staring at a little pot of dirt. Had I actually put the seeds in there? Maybe I was suffering from scurvy and it was all just a citrus-deficiency induced fever dream. But then, tiny tiny tiny green blades poked out one by one from the darkness of the soil. All five sprouted and as more sunlight flooded through my windows, their stalks stretched up and out, towards the sunbeams. Now, four months later, the seedlings are taller and have little leaves, but are still so delicate. Seeing how much these seeds have grown makes me want to care for them with a gentle and patient hand. I feel like I’m rooting for the underdog, knowing the sprouts could for so many reasons wilt and perish. Everyday I check on them, and everyday I’m relieved to see their perseverance.
This little experiment is often conducted in childhood to educate us about natural life cycles. It’s not a brave leap of science or some grand artistic masterpiece. That doesn’t make it any less of a meaningful experience. At a time when the world feels so unstable and the glimmering promise of a better tomorrow is not as hopeful as it once was, I take a lot of inspiration from my little seeds. For me, this has been an exercise in patience and a reminder to live my life one day at a time. When I look at the seedlings, I imagine someday picking a lemon from their branches, making a glass of lemonade, and saving the seeds to sow for years to come. I know that it is most likely that these seedlings won’t survive my lack of botanical knowledge or the deep freeze of next winter, but that’s ok. I can try again, and again, and again, and hope that someday my perseverance will yield a new, lemony sweet tomorrow.
Sarah Sawamura is a Bostonian abroad writing to you from within the moss covered forests of Kyoto, Japan.
FOR MORE ON SARAH SAWAMURA CHECK OUT HER WEBSITE