My scarlet runner beans race skywards every year, grown solely for the hummingbirds they bring. Each fall, after they have dried to rattling husks in the chill November breeze, I pick the best plumpest reaching-most pods. These are the winner for that year’s sun, soil, pest and wind competition. Not that scarlet runners are hard to grow, but in 5, 0r 10 or maybe 25 years I will have created seeds that are ideally suited for the rotten crabby spot I allot them.
Super magic hummingbird-bringing beans, if you will. With a little piece of me, or at least my choices, in their genetic code.
In his latest New York Times essay, with his typical mastery, rural-observer Verlyn Klinkenborg charts the journey of the Tuscarora people and the corn they have planted for hundreds of years in whatever ground they call home.
“In the history of the Tuscarora, there is an unbroken garden leading from the past to the present, for the only certain way to ensure the vitality of this year’s seed is to bury it and wait for it to come up as next year’s seed.”