Thermodynamics and a Wedding: Fall's Bounty
Fall is so pretty. Abundance calls to us, and we respond--even if it's to head out to a pumpkin patch with a small hand in our own, off to collect a prized fruit for hobgoblining. We are not different from generations before us. Maybe we don't identify this calling in the same way as those for whom harvest was really about a flurry of preparation for a cold winter. Still, we respond.
I spent last weekend working on and enjoying a beautiful wedding at David's beautiful farm. Abundant it was. Abundance of love, of community, of beauty, of laughter. Abundance of warm light. Abundance of gratitude.
This warm light translates to abundance in a more categorical way. Michael Pollan heartbreakingly delineates sunshine's bountiful yield in the natural order (please bear with the long quotation):
"Entropy is the great faith of our time. Those who are most awed by it preach “limits to growth” — that we should consume our fixed, unreplenishable stores as slowly as possible…. But the second law of thermodynamics, under which entropy increases as matter converts to energy, applies only to closed systems, and… the global ecosystem is not a closed system…. new energy is continually pouring down on it, in the form of sunlight — free, boundless, virtually infinite sunlight. And sunlight come down to Earth is used by the process of photosynthesis to create new plant matter. Plants, in other words, are energy returned to matter, entropy undone, at least here on Earth.
The lesson in this is not that we should feel free to waste our resources; it’s that our environmental problems may have more to do with our technologies and habits and economic arrangements than with the planet’s inherent limits or the burden of our numbers. All we could ever possibly need is given. In terms of the global ecosystem, there is a free lunch and its name is photosynthesis. In a sense, the ancients were entirely correct to regard the harvest’s abundance as a gift from the heavens….
…this strikes me as the harvest’s most salutary teaching — indeed, as reason enough to garden. Here in my garden the second law of thermodynamics is repealed. Here there is more every year, not less. Here it is ever early, never late. Here… newness comes into the world (145)." --Michael Pollan, Second Nature
|Senescing Dog fennel and ageratum in the wet meadow.|
|Ageratum, Vernonia, Asters all lit up in the sun.|
|Centerpieces picked over in the aftermath...we filled baskets with fruit from the farmer's market, and flowers and branches, mostly cut from the roadsides in Dekalb Co (We bought the roses). People were snacking on them during the wedding.|