THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Apr19

A Poem From Shane Koyczan

Just occasionally we come across a writer who shares something with us we really enjoy, that really hits the right button for that moment. This time, that writer is poet Shane Koyczan.

As part of his newsletter, he sends out a new poem. Last month the poem was the one below, entitled ‘Whatever Mountain’. The lines ‘you will have won nothing by crossing this finish line / It exists / only to task you with discovering / how much deeper / you can go’ from the middle section felt extraordinary to read.

It is a positive, powerful poem about moving forward. Sometimes, when we speak about organic gardening…. or planting for bees…. or carbon capture…. we think no-one cares, no-one is listening. It can feel like we are screaming into the wind! But reading this poem by Shane Koyczan is inspiring, and reminds us to carry on and go for it… because that leads to growth.

A timely lesson for spring, the season of growth….

Whatever Mountain

If you think it will be easy
If you think the path
will be laid out before you
or that the trail
will have previously been blazed
all obstacles cleared
every footstep
already pioneered by those who have gone before you

if you think that every barricade
will have been dismantled
or that every wall
will have been removed

if you think pressing your hands
into the wet cement of a foundation
will have proved to the world
you have left your mark upon it

if you think the grit
under your fingernails is evidence
that you have done enough

or that your rough and callused hands
offer sufficient testimony
that you have earned rest

if you think the test
will be anything less
than an essay question
aimed at unearthing
the answer of how much
your heart can bear

you will be disappointed

it will require more than
that there will be no welcome mat
waiting to greet you at the foot of this mountain

no medal
to pin upon your chest
when this is done

you will have won nothing by crossing this finish line
It exists
only to task you with discovering
how much deeper
you can go

it will insist that you drill past
the “I don’t know”
that has stood stubbornly in your way
since the instant
you first wondered if you could

it will burden you with the charge
of bringing to the surface
an understanding
of the misunderstood

the excavation
of an answer to the question
what now?

how do you keep going
in a world where the hellos
are outweighed by the goodbyes?

how do you train yourself to know
that you have to battle through the fall
if you ever expect to rise

you have to accept the fact that
the size of the mountain in front of you
is secondary to the fact that there is a mountain in your way

you don’t need a finish line to remind you
that the way forward exists because of the work you put in
forging the path behind you

effort isn’t weighed on scales
there will be times when the last breath in your lungs
must volunteer to become the wind in your sails

because who else is going to do it?

forward

faster than full speed
toward the colossus of uncertainty
that’s been laying bricks in your throat
to make room for the quiet impostor
sent to replace your roar your

strength is not diminished
because others think your struggle is futile

every time you broke
you learned to reconcile the pieces
and build a better self
using what you could salvage from the ruins of your slaughter

your alma mater was a school of thought
where the lessons were taught in reverse
test first
instruction later
it was a classroom dedicated to the teaching of what can be learned
from your failure

the answers were never meant to be easy
you’ve always known it
you don’t borrow the conviction it takes
to make yourself practice the impossible
you own it

the heaviest thing you will ever have to lift
are our own spirits

they will at times
be weighted down with the terrible gravity that is doubt
they will at times refuse to man the lighthouse
meant to steer you clear from disaster

you will never master being whole
without first knowing
that some of the pieces we lose stay lost
and that sometimes the cost of moving forward
is having to leave behind that part of yourself
and learn to exist without it

to face down whatever mountain is in your way
but then do what you’re going to do about it.

By Shane Koyczan

Mar19

Wasting Water

Well worth a read in the BBC today – a note on how wasting water in the UK “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby.” Read the report here. I have written a talk about how we use water in the  garden. It was written when I moved from Hampshire to Essex and found out for myself just how dry this area of the UK is. It completely changed the way I garden. The lack of such a precious resource as water made me question what we can do to save it, store it and …

READ MORE

Mar14

The Foie Gras That Tastes Like Nature

Ethical Foie Gras? Is That A Real Thing?   Foie gras – can it be ‘grown’ ethically? The video showing how this farmer works suggests it can… We first read about this in a book called The Third Plate by Dan Barber. I loved it and I love how Eduardo the farmer, who farms on the Dehesa in Spain, has a ‘take half leave half rule’. When talking about how the geese eat his olives… “They’re always quite fair. If you make sure the geese are relaxed and happy, you’ll be rewarded with the gift of fatty livers. That is God’s …

READ MORE

Mar04

Hardy Orchids Via James Wong

Hardy orchids – here is a subject I would love to know more about – so lo and behold, James Wong has written about it in the Guardian! Read the article about hardy orchids here. I love having orchids in the house, just your usual run of the mill buy them in any shop orchids, but it is a pleasure to read about the plants that will grow outside and cope with this weather. (This insane weather! From the hottest days of February on record to Storm Freya, all within a week. Weather is always such a factor in gardening, but …

READ MORE