Here is a photo of Grandpa Rupert, just a teen, who enlisted to fight in WWI. (Check out the KILT! ) I was told that he exaggerated his age to join up to fight for King and Country, eager lad that he was. He came back from Europe a broken man. He barely survived the trenches of WWI, along with only a handful of soldiers from his regiment. He never spoke about the war, except to say that “war is a terrible thing”. Returning to Vancouver Island, Grandpa Rupert healed his wounds tilling the soil, growing berries. I’ve discovered that more and more war veterans are turning to farming every day.
You may recall the post I did on the OTA awards and the young Iraq Vet turned organic farmer who led us in the marine oath to be Semper Fidelis. With staggeringly high suicide rates and suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Syndrome, war veterans kill themselves at a rate of one per day. That’s a conservative estimate. And who can blame them; they have seen the worst of mankind, experienced the horrors or war. Thinking about this yesterday I discovered a new piece of Grandpa Rupert’s puzzle (he died when I was young). I had hitherto only thought about him as an organic farmer and songwriter. Now I think of him as a war veteran who healed himself through the Earth. His songs of the Earth were inspired by a love of Mother Nature.
Grandpa Rupert farmed organically in the 1950s, when his peers were starting to use chemical inputs. Grandpa used sawdust as a mulch, seaweed as a fertilizer, and extolled the lowly earthworm. He always would leave the soil better than he found it. Here is a link to one his songs I recorded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnRo3kFQEFU. I remember him this Remembrance Day. I think of his journey, his redemption through the soil. Through my own experience with gardening, I know that working the earth in harmony with her creatures heals the spirit and energizes the soul.
Let us all be semper fidelis to each other, to all creation from the earthworm to great ape. Let us wage not war on the earth but peace. Let us grow food as an act of healing, of love. And let’s give peas a chance!