Notes from the garden

June 2, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Even if I lived in a tiny bedsit, I would still somehow have a garden. It’s true, you know, about the importance of talking to your tomatoes. Everyone who grows them knows that. Or any of the gang growing in fenced off sections of the yard, in pots along the balcony or on wide window sills, little pots of herbs sitting on furniture in front of a window – we talk to them as we water them and trim off old flower heads or suckers growing between branches.

The Victorian fashion of mixing flowers with vegetables was the pattern of my maternal grandfather’s garden and we sat with my grandmother and the dog and the cats as a family at the table outside next to the garden, resplendent with lunch – good bread, salad, maybe a slice of meat but certainly fresh tomatoes as soon as they were ripe.

The local bees would join us, buzzing benevolently around the plates and the table and it was fun to trim a very tiny bit of something on my plate, put it to one side and watch fascinated as one of the bees moved that bit around and around until it could be lifted and flown away to stock the hive.

My grandfather loved to run a line of honey along my arm and not nervous at all, we watched quietly while the bees came to clean the smear entirely from my skin and never ever sting me.

At the point of writing these melodic memories, we have not all gone to the polls and the result of that voting is not known and cannot truly be predicted. So many fingers are crossed that the dreadful and corrupt Doug Ford has not been returned to the seat of power and there are no doubt plenty of people talking already about what they will do to slow his continued destruction of the land and the economy if he is.

Yet we cannot rewrite history and it is with profound gratitude that those of us who can, enjoy our personal histories with wise grandparents and kindly bees.

Whatever else, whoever else sits on the throne at Queen’s Park, it is imperative now that we protect history in the making. There is tremendous power at the grass roots and this is the day and age when protest can take many forms that are not only stopping traffic and gathering en masse at the doors of government to warn that government that it can also be stopped. The strength of opinions wisely assimilated has the platform of the internet and this can and has swayed the flow of recent history in a way that only time will clearly prove.

To the point, this is the moment for the internet to be used as many optimists thought it would be, to flourish as a tool for the people – namely those who believe their voices should be an influence for the good of society, of the planet, of the disabled and impoverished. 

Ha- I should talk: I am a card-carrying dinosaur when it comes to the internet but Patricia and I are living together these days and she is active on twitter and so forth. She engages in “spaces” and “rooms” where people come together and discuss matters of state, exchange experiences and talk about solutions. Politicians join these groups to hear what they have to say, to listen to what people need and are calling for. They come to suggest policy and garner reaction.

Patricia talks with passion about basic income by which she means a real livable income, tax deducted that in a realistic way, gives the possibility to rent a place to live, to buy groceries, to have a meal out once in a while, maybe even to save a little. She has it costed out by adding tax brackets to the upper levels of income – nothing crazy – no one ever suggests seriously taxing the wealthy – but enough to make a difference. Patricia reckons people have the right to live whether they work or not – all income is spent supporting the economy.

She is not a voice in the wilderness; many advocates are banging the same drum but few take the idea to its logical conclusion: that basic income must not be a benefit but an income without strings so that people can live their own lives, available to absolutely everyone, graduated on personal income. Based on faith that people will want to be productive because they are intelligent and caring, they must be freed of the circumstances that repress them in ways they cannot beat for themselves.

When people are released from oppression, they can begin to make a difference, they can insist on the right, indeed the absolutely essential need for bees to survive, for war to end, for attention to the needs of the planet to matter the most. Such a surge could change the world.

Maybe that is why there is such resistance to a true basic income.

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