Cherry tomato volunteers. Image courtesy of Kool Cat.

The rewards of the garden in October are multiple. There’s the accounting of the quantitative results, either in pounds of tomatoes or quarts canned. There’s an accounting of the qualitative results as well, either a given crop was good or not so good, a lot or a few, hardy or weak, tasty or bland. There is a good feeling in stocking up for the oncoming winter. There is the attendant satisfaction with the successes and disappointment in the failures. There is the sense of having been a good steward of the earth.

When the killing frost comes it does so with an aura of finality but not sadness. The gardener understands that nature is now at ebb tide in the cycle of seasons and in the spring the whole carnival of life will revive itself all over again.

Russian Kale, reputed to survive at temperatures as low as -10 degrees F. Image courtesy of Kool Cat.

Garden accounting is accurate and precise. When the produce is harvested the books are balanced. Whether the numbers are registered or not makes no difference. The reality of the garden is basic and intuitive, resonates with something primal and innate in the human psyche, something entwined within the earth itself.

Shell beans from the North Dakota Hidatsa tribe, drying on the vine. Image courtesy of Kool Cat.

The fundamentals of business accounting adhere pretty closely to that of nature, too, with the same kind of resonance. What you take from one place must be accounted for in another place. The books must balance. There is a satisfaction in this kind of accounting, too.

First season Honeycrisp apples. Image courtesy of Kool Cat.

Garden accounting and the traditional dusty accounting of business proceed as usual these days, but somewhere in the course of human development a contrary, fictitious sort of flim-flam accounting came into being.

Butternut squash drying in the sun. Image courtesy of Kool Cat.

One misconception in the flim-flam is that we can experience unlimited growth, now and forever. The satisfaction of balancing the books has been topped by the satisfaction of having whatever we want, any time and all the time, except the new satisfaction isn’t very satisfying. It is the satisfaction of hyperactive children who get too much candy. It doesn’t last until afternoon.

These might be the last tomatoes of the season. Image courtesy of Kool Cat.

We aren’t going to grow our bodies to the height of mountains, unless genetic engineering stumbles into the creation of such monsters, and we aren’t going to grow our economy by pretending that creation of money, with no basis in nature and human effort, is real.

Second crop of golden raspberries. Image courtesy of Kool Cat.

Could there be a greater brat childishness than the practice of saddling the world population with debt that can never be paid and simultaneously “printing” more and more “money” to stave off the inevitable impending disaster? What could be crazier than continuing to manufacture more and more unnecessary goods for “profit” in worship of the God of Perpetual Growth?

Some of the squash harvest. Image courtesy of Kool Cat.

A bunch of tomatoes before canning. Image courtesy of Kool Cat.

People all over the world recognize that something is terribly wrong. We cling to the pretend world we’ve created while at the same time intuitively knowing we must stop the madness.

What we do need to do, as difficult as it may be, is to change course and stop pretending. We need to balance the books the way nature does it. That’s the real bottom line.