“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
I have this quirk where sometimes I “look-up-in-the-dictionary” the strict definitions of everyday words.
Why? Who knows why? I don’t know why. I just know it’s sometimes fun to do.
Sometimes I just want to know the very old roots of why some things are the way some things are.
Why do we blindly go about in our herds – doing this thing one day – doing that thing on another?
Where do our words come from? What did the words once mean?
We know from the History books that at one time, a far far earlier time than ours, we know that back then people worshiped the very world we lived on – the sun, the moon, the planets, the plant life, the animals – all of it – and they understood that all of it was merely the manifestations of some unknown, unseen, higher power. They believed that the very planet itself – this ground beneath our feet – and this air that we breathe – and that butterfly I watched weave its way across South Park Street this morning – are all one God, and the many manifestations of that one God.
And, ever since, we have been trying to put this fundamental understanding of reality into words…
We know, for instance, that the days of the week each once came with its own divinity; and we knew that these divinities played enormous roles in the lives of everyday people – for we were but mice sleeping in bed with a herd of elephants.
Take today for instance – this very sunny, late spring / early summer Saturday afternoon in South Halifax.
This is what the dictionary tells me about the word ‘Saturday’.
Saturday: From Old English, “Short for saeternesdaeg, “Saturn’s day”.
also, b) The sixth day of the week; and c) follows Friday and precedes Sunday.
So Saturday is Saturn’s Day.
But who’s Saturn again?
The dictionary reminds me that he was the Roman God of Agriculture.
So Saturday is about agriculture, fertility, harvest; and also about famine, infertility, respect.
Saturday is also the final day (of 6) before “Sun-Day”, that day when we worship Creation itself- in it’s Entirety.
Saturday is the Farmer’s day. The day of Agriculture.
Saturday follows Friday (“The day of Venus – Goddess of Love and Beauty” – Saturday ‘fertility’ celebrated after Friday ‘love’ – which in turn, Love is celebrated after Thor’s Day – the warrior’s day*),
and precedes Sunday – the last day of the week – the Day of the Sun – the maker and breaker of all other days of the week – the day of rest and worship. The day we give thanks.
Saturday – was once understood as the day of the week that we celebrate Agriculture and Farmers.
“But what does that mean?” you ask. “To celebrate agriculture.”
“How, from our 40th floor condos, from our central air-conditioned lifestyles, can we understand this celebration of dirt and rain and sun and minerals?”
Farming… according to David Thoreau… “… I did better still, for I spaded up all the land which I required, about a third of an acre, and I learned from the experience… that if one would live simply and eat only the crop which he raised, and raise no more than he ate, and not exchange it for an insufficient quantity of more luxurious and expensive things, he would need to cultivate only a few rods of ground, and that it would be cheaper to spade up that than to use oxen to plow it, and to select a fresh spot from time to time than to manure the old, and he could do all his necessary farm work as it were with his left hand at odd hours in the summer…”
On those Saturdays that I do not have to work we can almost always be found having breakfast at the Ardmour Diner (that old dame just north of Oxford, on Quinpoole); followed by a walk through the Farmer’s Market, and then a coffee and a quick read through the Saturday morning newspaper at the Trident Cafe, with whatever friends happen to be there at that time.
What better way to celebrate farmers and Saturday mornings than to go to your local farmer’s market and support them as best you can.
Sure, some of the stuff is more expensive than the prices found at the colossal Loblaw’s Superstore Supermarket just down the street – but have you actually ever tasted a tomato or cucumber that was just picked this morning, or yesterday – fresh and ripe – flavors exploding in your mouth – as opposed to those red baseballs in produce isle #6 that were force-fed fast-grow chemical concoctions and picked when they are only the color of early-spring tree buds, then sprayed with chemicals to preserve and chemicals to ripen and chemicals to redden – all shipped to you from the other side of the continent?
Not to mention the costs later when they have to take your colon out, or surgically repair your heart.
Drop one pack of cigarettes a week and spend that $15 at the farmer’s market. Take the money you spend on two lattes and use that $8-10 bucks to buy an basket of fresh organic potatoes or a couple of quarts of organic local strawberries.
Go ahead – treat yourself!
Have a real strawberry explode in your mouth. Take your knife and cut off a thin slice of raw potato – pinch it with salt – and eat it. Taste a real potato – maybe for the first time.
Buy some local honey. Try a fresh pastry. Smell the breads. The cheeses. Take some herbs home and put them in your windowsill.
Buy your eggs from that woman who is 75-years-old. Check out her hands while you do. See the gnarled strength that still lies within.
Saturday – today – splurging our tiny savings on some 5-year-old cheddar, and fresh organic basil to make tonight’s pesto. A fresh baguette. (Our downstairs neighbours will bring the wine.) Apricot croissants.
A bike ride through the commons.
Bob Marley on the back rooftop under a setting sun.
Glancing at the indigo blue sky, looking for the first star of the night.
Watching below as our cats stalk the backyard – chasing new shadows and jumping up at fleeing moths.
* okay, some of you want to play this out to the bitter end (myself now included)…this according to my Reader’s Digest (2 vol) Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary (a very prized Christmas gift from my mother):
Monday: Moon’s Day; Tuesday: Day of “Tiu” (God of Sky, and War); Wednesday: “Woden’s” Day (Woden – Supreme God of the gods. …Wednesday therefore is God’s Day); Thursday: “Thor’s” Day (God of Thunder); Friday: Venus’ Day; Saturday: Saturn’s Day; Sunday.