Niagara Gazette — “… and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to break down, and a time to build up …”
— Ecclesiastes 3
I’m not sure what The Byrds had in mind way back in 1965 when they popularized Pete Seeger’s 1950s rendition of Ecclesiastes 3, but I am inclined to agree with novelist Thomas Wolfe who wrote: “[O]f all I have ever seen or learned, that book seems to me the noblest, the wisest, and the most powerful expression of man’s life upon this earth.”
Wolfe, one of my favorite American authors, continued: Ecclesiastes is, “… the highest flower of poetry, eloquence, and truth…the greatest single piece of writing I have ever known, and the wisdom expressed in it the most lasting and profound.”
For me, the words strike very close to home, reminding me of the way my siblings and I as well as most of our neighborhood playmates were raised, with parents molded by their agrarian roots, clenching a well-worn bible in one hand and the tattered remains of an Old Farmer’s Almanac in the other.
Every year, at the dawn of spring, we began our preparations for the planting of our back yard vegetable gardens, some of which were big enough to be classified as urban farms. By this time of the year, we were busy every day after school trying to turn the still semi-frozen earth into workable soil in advance of the planting of the seeds.
Toiling in the garden in the warming early spring air was a great break from the drudgery of shoveling the heavy, wet, late winter snow, and I’m sure it was a great relief for Mom too, glad to get here eight bouncing children out of the house after being mostly indoors for what seemed like an eternity to all of us.