Editor’s Notebook, Features and Occasionals

Editor’s Notebook: April 2013

By Greta Belanger deJong

I have devised a new diet which I call the Health and Happiness Eating Plan. I can eat all the ice cream (or its culinary equivalent) I want, any time. However, prior to consumption, I must have a large glass of water, a can of salmon (Alaskan, preferably sockeye), an egg or two (fried in coconut oil is best) and/or a green drink (my favorite is a small head of Romaine, a green apple, a Meyer lemon, a thumb-sized piece of ginger, some frozen fruit and a lot of distilled water, blended in the Vita-Mix). Then, all the ice cream my heart desires. It proscribes only order, not content, and is a very pleasant regimen. I could write a book about it and become famous, but there—I’ve just written the lazy person’s book: You have it all in a paragraph.

There’s something to be said for laziness. It tends to keep things simple. For example, I may ride my bike downtown to avoid the hassle of looking for a parking place. Or I might spend a day “working” in the garden because I’m too lazy to drive up a mountain and take a proper hike.

These examples also show that laziness is relative: One person’s ambition may be another’s cop-out.

My dad, who was a music teacher (among many other things), had a sign on the ivy-wallpapered door leading to his basement studio that read:

He who knows nothing, loves nothing. He who can do nothing understands nothing. He who understands nothing is worthless. But he who understands also loves, notices, sees … The more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the greater the love…. Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about grapes.

~ Paracelsus

My youthful trouble with that word “worthless” has given way to this adult question: What are the other options for the original word which was translated as “worthless”? I am thinking of the Biblical line, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Turns out “debonair” is a closer translation than “meek”: Blessed are the high-spirited. What power dude put the english on that translation with “meek”?

Paracelsus, a fellow with a very long name who chose this handy one-word moniker for himself, was a Renaissance man—physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, occultist —living in Renaissance times. Maybe he was bragging; he certainly must have known (thus loved, at least by his own definition) a lot.

My dad was the Depression-era version of a Renaissance man. Curious, caring, self-taught in many fields, he was a man who, as my mom said when he died, “knew what life was for.”

My translation quibbles aside, Paracelsus’s words speak to those sublime moments when one senses the connectivity that holds us all together. It’s not a book-learning knowledge, but a certain knowing that comes from being present to the moment; from observing the seasons and cycles. From noticing that strawberries do, indeed, ripen long before grapes.

Gardening is the perfect way to exercise all the skills and virtues that Paracelsus praises. In the center spread of this issue you will find a handy pull-out section to tape on your refrigerator or pin up by your trowel and pitchfork. It has an updated planting chart and a detailed list of frost-free dates for around the valley. I hope you find it useful.

This is the fattest issue we’ve published in a while, thanks to increased revenue. Thank you, CATALYST advertisers, for supporting us and trusting us to get the word out.

Now, go read this magazine. Share something you learn with someone else. Tell them you saw it here. I hope you find this issue inspiring, and that you’ll have lots to say. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

This article was originally published on March 29, 2013.