In seventh grade sewing class, there was a framed reminder on the wall above the row of sewing machines: Don’t RIP WHAT YOU SEW ~ Pay Attention to What You’re Doing
For twelve year olds making their first projects—and usually in a hurry to get them done—this was a reminder to work carefully or risk ripping out stitches and starting over. The message was, of course, a play on the words, YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW. Which is synonymous with “What goes around, comes around” and “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
My mother often watched and waited as I learned my lessons. I was eight when we got rid of the old sandbox in the backyard and I was given the space for my own 8’x5’ garden. Mom let me choose any five seed packets. I chose a combination of vegetables and flowers—beets, carrots, corn, zinnias and marigolds—but I lost interest in reading the instructions. I had no patience for planting in neat rows, but merrily mixed the seeds together and flung them throughout the garden. The result was, well, interesting, but we did get a few veggies AND colorful bouquets. Mom smiled and asked, “What will you plant next year, and how will you plant it?”
Two years ago after we removed a dying Aspen tree, I became the 8-year-old gardener again. After planting our vegetable garden, I had extra carrot seeds, so I combined them with the soil in the hole…and forgot about them. Several weeks ago, I noticed feathery green tops mixed with the grass where the tree had been. The result was the 7” long, tough, bug-nibbled carrot in the picture above, surrounded by many smaller bits of carrots. The harvest was colorful and interesting—but after two seasons it was definitely inedible—it was what I had sown but then ignored.
Scarlett O’Hara, in the movie version of GONE WITH THE WIND, knelt in the destroyed field and dug out a withered turnip. She held it up and swore, “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.” This should make me feel guilty about my forgotten carrots, but Scarlett didn’t survive by planting more turnips; she survived by marrying men with money. Rich reaping.
Both Socrates and Plato have been credited for the lesson that “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and though my forgotten carrots will not cause my family to starve, I am paying attention to the lesson. I need to work carefully or risk ripping out mistakes and starting over, and be ever mindful of what I sow.
On so many levels, it’s a good lesson for sewing, gardening…and life in general.