Isn’t it wonderful in springtime, when we observe the growth in the hedgerows and fields and in the parks and in our gardens. We feel a deep down, almost primeval feeling of relief, that life is continuing, that plants are growing again after winter. I think that sense of relief is carried in our genetic memories. The sight of spring growth lifts the spirits and promises us that the light is returning. Plant life needs the light of the sun for energy, for growth.
We start off some of our seeds in February, tucking them up in modules of compost, looking forward to the day when we spot signs of growth. Outside, we notice the greening of the land, with the growth of Dandelion, Cleavers and young Nettles.
Fresh buds on trees also tell us that there is growth as do the flowers that appear as the Earth warms and we head towards summer.
Seeing growth in Nature like this is so heart affirming. We look forward to the growth of our vegetables and to the fruit on the trees. Harvest time is a natural outcome of all the growth during the summer. Watching our plants grow – the vegetables, the fruit bushes, the herbs and the trees; enjoying the colours and scents of the flowers is like watching our children grow. Nothing gives more satisfaction than seeing a child grow from infant to adult or seeing the garden grow over the seasons.
With harvest time at Lughnasadh, growth slows down and we begin to harvest our crops. All the effort has paid off. We are grateful to the sun and to the rain. We are grateful to the plants. We are grateful that we have had the opportunity to enjoy the weather and the fruits of our labours.
Later, as we reach Seed-Fall or Samhain, (the end of summer), we harvest the final crops and our seeds.
Plants die back and it is time for the Earth to rest. It is time for us to prepare for winter. We know that it is only natural that growth cannot continue. It would be wrong if it did. Imagine if our children kept growing but never reached adulthood, it would be worrying and unnatural. Imagine if plants kept growing but we never reached harvest time, we would be hungry! We refer to various bodily complaints in terms of unnatural growth – an in-growing toe nail for example is very painful. An overgrowth of facial hair on a woman can be very distressing. Often cancer is described as a “growth”. Such complaints cause stress and pain and are the result of some imbalance within the body; something gone wrong. The natural cycle of life is for all living things to come into being, grow and then die off. Then the cycle begins again. We can see these cycles in the seasons, in the natural world and in our selves.
An economy is a system in which the production of and consumption of resources are managed. Every day we are given news about this system – which, by the way, is not alive. It is an idea, a method, a system of organisation. We are told that we need growth, we need the economy to grow. The growth of this economy is dependent on producing and consuming more and more and more. Unlike natural systems, the economy must keep growing, it must never cycle or relax or end. The objective of our economists and politicians is to convince us that the economy is a “being” which must be fed. To feed this non-living system, method, idea, necessitates plundering our natural world.
Environmental groups and green parties also talk about the necessity of economic growth as if they can achieve two diametrically opposed outcomes. They do know that caring for the planet cannot be done if one is seeking economic growth, based on a system that manages the production and consumption of our planet’s resources. Extraction, pollution, throwaway this and disposable that, destruction of habitats, 24/7 anything you want on tap, (most of which we don’t need but are trained to want) is an exhausting treadmill of pointlessness for us and for the planet.
It is quite simple. There is no such thing as infinite growth – we know that when extended growth happens in Nature, something is seriously wrong and out of balance. We cannot have a happy planet, a healthy environment, (internally and externally) if we are in exploitation mode. Life would be so much simpler, happier, less stressful, if everyone made do with a little less, slowed down, rested and looked forward to the return of “summer”.