Above: Enlil, the Sumerian god of the Winds of the Cosmos
Seeding the hidden dimension with AN ACRE OF POPPIES
by Nance Klehm
Come on then, what are you waiting for?
Nothing. Let’s hurry.
Yes, let’s run!
Come on! Come on! Hurry! Hurry!
You can see it there. It’s wonderful.
Oh…Oh… What’s happening? What is it? I can’t run anymore. I’m so sleepy.
Here, give us your hands and we’ll pull you along.
Oh no, please, I just have to rest for a moment.
You can’t rest now, we’re almost there.
The hidden dimension of a public sphere is the sphere of the imagination. How we locate disorder and remedy it is how we imagine our body and mind. Disease and healing exist largely within our own perception. Individually. Collectively.
Poppies are a successful weed. They pollinate by the wind and drop their seed easily. 4000-year-old large seed heads have been found in the graves of stone age lake dwellers. The most ancient testimony of the poppy is on a small white clay tablet written in cuneiform found in the ancient spiritual center of the Sumerians – Nippur. Nippur held the shrine to Enlil, the god of the Winds of the Cosmos. It was in Mesopotamia, the land cradled between the Tigris and Euphrates and the birthplace of agriculture, less than 100 miles from Baghdad.
Iraq’s seed bank used to be located in the town of Abu Ghraib. After the 2003 American invasion, the Abu Ghraib facility was emptied of its seed-filled glass containers. Iraqi seed bank employees had sent a “black box” of seeds to Syria prior to the invasion. That box contains samples of 200 varieties of 28 of the country’s most important crop plants. This is what is left of Mesopotamian agriculture. These seeds are held in a freezer now, maybe grown out by some scientists, and not circulated. A tragic irony.
I have been gathering, sowing and collecting poppies during the last 15 years. From their frosty green lettuce-y foliage, fuzzy buds emerge and open to four crinkly silky petals, with black or white flares and olive to purple-black dusty pollen. Some are cool pink, but most are salmon colored.
HOW TO SOW AN ACRE OF POPPIES (right) NOW
(I mean NOW. February 28th through the first half of March. Get out there. Poppy seeds need the cold of late winter to wake up to germination.)
1. Find a spot of open ground that the sun will shine down upon.
2. Scratch the soil lightly loosening the entire surface no deeper than the depth of kitten claws.
3. Sprinkle some seeds—just a few, each seed needs space to grow.
4. Don’t cover them. The loosened soil has small rills and furrows that the seeds will settle in.
5. Walk away and let the next moisture event, be it rain or snow, settle the soil and seed. Find another sunny spot and repeat until done.
Don’t hesitate. Sow your part of that scattered acre NOW.
Sounds like a project for the vacant lots of Fishtown.
Indeed! Somebody get Lord Whimsy in on this…
If anyone has recommendations for viable poppy seeds other than bagels, I’ll spread the call.
In the meantime: let’s do some seed bombing:
most garden catalogues have a variety of poppies…
not the answer you wanted, maybe someone else is out there HALOOOO!
i shared mine with nyc and the rest i plan to sprinkle over chicago soils.
Papaver somniferum seeds are avail from any decent nursery; sometimes you can even find them in grocery markets. More info avail online. Good desk ref is Ratsch’s The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications. Good reading: Michael Pollan (!) on poppies.