I really enjoy vegetable gardening, but I have a hard time justifying it if I'm merely pulling produce at the time that I can find cheap fresh-cut produce throughout my rural area at a dozen frontyard stands: 25 cents a cucumber, 20 cents a tomato, $1 per winter squash. I need to get "value added," which I partially do by using virtually no chemicals and planting non-gmo seeds. But what really adds the value is pulling produce at times when it's not available . . . by extending the season. That's why I love getting spinach in March and November. But extending the season is hard work, and when the season deals you a blow like yesterday's mid-May snow, it's rough. I hate covering plants and hauling tomato containers into the house.
In case you missed it, yesterday was the feast day of St. Pachomius. I kind of think of St. Pachomius as St. Antony's co-founder of monastic life, like St. Dominic and St. Francis were co-founders of the mendicant orders. I used to spend a lot of time, reading about the desert fathers, with no small amount of fantastical thinking on my part. As a young father with a lot of kids and the mountain of responsibility looming in front of me and getting steeper with each birth, the desert alternative looked pretty good. And, to be honest, it still does, enough to prompt me to pull Benedicta Ward's The Sayings of the Desert Fathers off my shelf yesterday and start reading it again. It's an excellent assortment of quotes and anecdotes, and it's for any person seeking sanctity, not just those of us seeking a form of escapism.
And if you're like me, seeking escape, don't feel too bad about it. I think all people seek escape. If you seek yours in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, you're doing better than the dude who seeks it in excess alcohol or other forms of problematic behavior. And you're doing better than the guy who packs up and leaves the problems altogether, like that dude Springsteen celebrates in his first hit, "Hungry Heart."
Springstreen performed a lot of songs about escaping, now that I think about it. In fact, it's a whole genre of pop music. Check out this list of "Songs About Getting Away." The all-time best song in this genre has got to be Otis Redding's, which the above list doesn't mention (so take that list with a grain of salt). I swear, I could listen to that song a hundred times . . . with Benedicta Ward's book in hand or not.