Sandbox: How to plant a seed

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Soybeans emerge from the soil in the summer of 2012, when it was “very hot and there was worry the seeds wouldn’t break through the crusty soil.” — photo by Nick Kleese
How to Plant a Seed

By Nick Kleese

The further away folks get from the soil, the thicker grows the shroud of mythology that surrounds it, and stronger grows the urge to peel back the shroud. There rises a suspicion that to become wise in the ways of the earth, one must undergo a journey, but a journey in which every successive discovery is followed by a new tangle of mystery and more difficult adventure.

This is a historical tendency: to perceive agrarian learning not a curve but a path spiraling infinitely inward, backward, toward the ways of the ancient peoples, to a time when nature and people and the divine were all intertwined and inseparable and shared a common understanding now lost in the digital unraveling of natural human wisdom. This, fortunately, is not the case. Here, a straightforward guide is presented — a how-to, if you will — about the process of planting and becoming a farmer.


Find some dirt.

Clear the dirt.

Pinch a clump between your pointer finger and thumb. Rub until a ribbon forms.

Stomp around until the dirt smells like rain.

Poke a hole in the dirt (use your pointer finger).

Take a seed from your pocket.

Put it in your mouth. Swish it around a bit, but do not bite.

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Spit it in the hole.

Hit your mark.

Push the best dirt over it.


Smell the air.

If the air smells like cool window panes — the kind that turn your forehead pink when you lean into them — say, looks like’t might do something.

Put your hands on your hips. Scan the sky.

Say, wellp.

Smell the air again.

If it smells like mud and tag and sunburns, and brings to mind those mornings that complicate the movement from night to day, put out your hands. Palms up, please.

If drops collect on your invisible tray, finish planting for the day.

Wait until the dirt blooms green.

(If green doesn’t come: wait. Green will always come, for better or for worse.)

Take pictures. Share them on Instagram. Or your refrigerator.

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