We know intuitively that nature’s time is the wisest time of all. Cycles and processes, otherwise forgotten or ignored, offer lessons that invite a return to slower, quieter rhythms, transforming time itself into something more bearable and even enjoyable.

Growing Things is a film made in 1928. It was originally intended to teach, step by step, how to grow beans and a few other vegetables like potatoes and onions. Inadvertently, this guide to gardening, (part of the Prelinger Archives), ends up speaking to our own time about life’s coming into being in its most miraculous aspects. It’s also full of easy-to-miss metaphors on time, the perception of which marks the very cadence of daily life.

The film is charming in both its simplicity and its clarity. Two men, one young and one older, work the land – resonating with humankind’s earliest origins. In intertitles, the film explains (not without a charming poetry) how to lay out the garden plot. The first step is to plow, and then to sew the seeds, leaving always just the right space between them. The narrative includes advice on what time of year to plant each vegetable, the positions for placing the seeds, and similar details.

The film goes on to explain the morphology of seeds, inanimate objects which, nevertheless, carry the potential of life within them. Finally, hypnotic time-lapse sequences of germinating seeds, give pause for a simple reflection: “Think of all that happens before you can say ‘One of my beans is up.’” It’s a discreet reminder that everything around us takes a while and requires a process to come into being.

This little film combines the charm of early cinema with a reflection important to an era like our own, when haste governs all of our personal processes, and when it’s easy to forget the beauty of the simple, and the meditative quality implied in physical and manual work. Growing Things is a reflexive call to recover nature’s pace, something that benefits our mental health and reminds us that everything around us follows a time of neither impatience nor of haste.

 

 

Image: Public Domain

We know intuitively that nature’s time is the wisest time of all. Cycles and processes, otherwise forgotten or ignored, offer lessons that invite a return to slower, quieter rhythms, transforming time itself into something more bearable and even enjoyable.

Growing Things is a film made in 1928. It was originally intended to teach, step by step, how to grow beans and a few other vegetables like potatoes and onions. Inadvertently, this guide to gardening, (part of the Prelinger Archives), ends up speaking to our own time about life’s coming into being in its most miraculous aspects. It’s also full of easy-to-miss metaphors on time, the perception of which marks the very cadence of daily life.

The film is charming in both its simplicity and its clarity. Two men, one young and one older, work the land – resonating with humankind’s earliest origins. In intertitles, the film explains (not without a charming poetry) how to lay out the garden plot. The first step is to plow, and then to sew the seeds, leaving always just the right space between them. The narrative includes advice on what time of year to plant each vegetable, the positions for placing the seeds, and similar details.

The film goes on to explain the morphology of seeds, inanimate objects which, nevertheless, carry the potential of life within them. Finally, hypnotic time-lapse sequences of germinating seeds, give pause for a simple reflection: “Think of all that happens before you can say ‘One of my beans is up.’” It’s a discreet reminder that everything around us takes a while and requires a process to come into being.

This little film combines the charm of early cinema with a reflection important to an era like our own, when haste governs all of our personal processes, and when it’s easy to forget the beauty of the simple, and the meditative quality implied in physical and manual work. Growing Things is a reflexive call to recover nature’s pace, something that benefits our mental health and reminds us that everything around us follows a time of neither impatience nor of haste.

 

 

Image: Public Domain