Getting Radicle (Botanical Wordplay)
I keep thinking it's time to end my sabbatical.
I almost open my books, and then I force myself to wait an hour, and I keep realizing that I'm not ready yet.
It feels like Braxton Hicks contractions. My comfortable womb is threatening to eject me. I know I can't stay in this place forever. This place of limbo, of no decision. Of waiting. Gestating can only last so long before the seed dies in the womb of the earth. It either sprouts or it rots. If I wait too long, I'll rot. If I sprout too soon, the frost will nip my tender shoots.
Seeds have a little hole in the seed coat called a micropyle. This pore allows moisture to enter the seed. Too much moisture and the seed drowns. Not enough and the germination process doesn't begin. Seeds also need the right amount of light and warmth. Some seeds need to be cold for a period of time before germination can begin (cold stratification). Some seeds need to be injured, scraped, etc (scarification). Seeds are designed to be frozen and thawed. To pass through the digestive tract. To be opened by fire. The trials and challenges of this world are part of the process of opening. Creatures of this Earth are designed to struggle, to be uncomfortable, and to be perfectly attuned to the place where they belong.
To what am I attuned? Where do I belong? What has trial and frozenness and scarring opened in me? Have I allowed myself to open?
Once sprouted, the tiny little seedling relies on its cotyledon, the embryonic leaves that are very much like the yoke in an egg that sustains the chick, to buy the new little plant a bit of time in the way of carbohydrates until its first true leaves can emerge and begin to photosynthesize. In this time, the seedling is defenseless. A hard frost, a trampling hoof, a grazing muzzle, are all a quick end to a courageous beginning. Seeds can lie dormant in seed banks for thousands of years until the perfect moment arrives, and then in the blink of an eye they can become fodder for a grazing ruminant.
Being fully alive requires risk. Growth. Pushing ahead before we are ready. Developing our defesensive alkaloids or thorns along the way, as we are big and strong enough to fully express both our beauty, medicine, and deterrence. I can feel something that needs to open inside me. It is pressing, pressing, pressing agains the walls of my heart, my mind. But the seed coat of my comfortable dormancy has not found its moment to open.
In the seedling, the embryonic root, or radicle, is the first to emerge. It presses down into the Earth, and as it grows it elevates the rest of the seed and the cotyledon above the soil. First the roots. First the radicle.
What needs to emerge into the Earth? Am I rooted? Am I radical enough? Am I stable enough? Is there water here? Are there minerals here? Will this foundation elevate me? Can I push off from here? Lift up from here? Once the elevation begins, the bursting forth, will I find the sun? The warmth of belonging? The embracing community of hyphae that connect me to my kin?
This garden of my life, this seedbank of patterns, hopes, dreams, conditioning, experiences; this season with its temperature, moisture and hours of daylight, what is it calling forth? How can I be the gardener that I want to be? How do I steward this one wild patch of earth that is called Erin? Or Erys, as the plants have named me now.
Still so many questions. Still so few answers. And yet the days grow longer, and the moisture is plentiful. May I claim the right of emergence, the risk of sprouting, to become more fully real. May we all take this risk, together.