A Deeply Satisfying Harvest

Drying Herbs
Freshly cut lemon balm, mint, sage, thyme, bee balm, etc, bound in twine and hung to dry

Where I live, the harvest season is officially over. The last of the crops are harvested and the farmers are settling in for the winter.

I live in the city now, but I spent years living on a farm, where we were always in touch with the rhythms of a nature. We were acutely aware of change of the seasons, the daily weather, and the rising and setting of the sun, because everything we did revolved around the cycles and temperament of earth.

Every year when the growing season starts, I like to go back to my hometown and have a taste of the harvest season. Not on a farm growing cash crops, but at least at the home of someone with some land and a garden.

There is something deeply satisfying about putting your hands into the soil, and watching what you plant sprout and grow. About making a meal with herbs, spices, and vegetables you and your friends and family harvested yourselves.

Some of my happiest memories from childhood are of the women in our family canning fruits and vegetables. They would spend days husking, peeling, snapping, and slicing various fruits and vegetables by hand.

My cousins and I would run by and snatch sliced fruit from the buckets, and our mothers would stay, “stop that…you’re going to get sick from all that raw fruit!” We would just giggle and run away with our loot. We never took heed of their warnings, and we never got sick from our pilfered fruit. 🙂

I’m not even fond of fruit, but that was different.

I asked my mother once why they bothered with all of that when they didn’t have to anymore. Why don’t you just buy vegetables in the store, mom? She said it was tradition, and I thought, “when I grow up, I’m going to the supermarket instead.”

Now I understand. The whole process is deeply satisfying. Growing and preparing your own food draws you near to one another, to the land, and to all the previous generations stretching back in time, long before the modern supermarket was born.

We can preserves and make jam, dry herbs and get creative with blends of herbal tea. Some of my friends make tinctures for home remedies, and put them in pretty little bottles with homemade labels and sell them at the farmer’s market.

Cucumbers
Freshly harvested cucumbers and peppers. Packets of loose-leaf herbal tea

This year I was fascinated with the watermelon. How its tendrils reach out and affix themselves, little by little, vining along whatever they can find. I was inspired to watch a timelapse video of a vining plant, stretching out its tendrils and latching onto things. Very cool. 🙂 I thought the freckled watermelons were some sort of crazy new hybrid, but it turns out they’re heirloom melons, called Moon and Stars. Freckle stars. 🙂 Even their vines are spotted. Lovely.

Watermelon
Moon and Stars watermelon. No, that’s not my foot. 🙂

I have found that I’m drawn to people who have an appreciation for plants and animals, and the beauty of the earth. If we’re talking about these things and your eyes glaze over in boredom, we’re probably not going to have enough common ground to build a close friendship. To me, the earth is an endless fascination.

I walk to the farmer’s market every week when it’s in town, and miss it when it’s closed. Like the stink bugs that invade my home around this time every year, the packing up of the farmer’s market is a harbinger of winter.

Enjoy the winter, look forward to the spring. Every season has its charms and is steeped the memories of years gone by.

I think if more people reconnected with the land, at least in some small way, they would be happier. I finally understand what my mother said about tradition.

If you work really hard to free yourself from the land, the seasons, and the harvest, what is it you’re going to do instead?

Watch Netflix and eat junk food?

Is that deeply satisfying?

Even a small patio garden can yield a surprising amount of produce. If you plant perennials like lemon balm and mint in your flower beds, they will come back every year on their own. And perhaps in the case of mint, go wild and take over every inch of space. 🙂 You can cut some anytime you like, all season long, and put it in your food or tea.

I understand why people wanted to escape the labor and uncertainty involved with producing their own food. I’m as grateful as anyone for the supermarket. But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten everything.

Know the deep satisfaction of being a producer instead of a consumer now and then. Make things with your own hands. Commune with the land.

Be happy. 🙂

If you’d like to join a discussion regarding this article, please visit the original post on my disqus channel, The Golden Rule.

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