Usually, about this time of year, when the days are starting to be shorter, and a sunny day might start off a bit "crisp,” I come in from the back yard with a big smile, carrying a large basket of goodies from the garden. There might be tomatoes, greens of all kinds, beans, carrots, and maybe the last of the summer squash.
I find the colours and textures almost overwhelming in their beauty. I arrange my bounty on the table, and take a picture, sometimes two. My family is used to this "cornucopia moment” by now, and don’t usually comment, except to murmur some appreciative words as they pass by. Every year the assortment is different, depending on what was planted, but also on the weather, and various other uncontrollable events. Like when the deer got in, or when the irrigation hose was cut by a lawnmower accidentally when we were away.
This year will be a little different, though. There will be a few things that can’t be seen in the picture. The first thing the garden produced for me was patience. For some reason, as soon as the seeds are in the ground, I start haunting the rows, looking for the little sprouts, and having doubts. Is it too early, too cold, too wet? Maybe some bug ate them. This year, I realized that the seeds will sprout according to their own schedule. My job is just to plant them, and providing the right conditions, have faith in the process.
Very close behind patience, I harvested a large crop of wonder. It always amazes me that the very small seeds can produce such an enormous result, and so gracefully. No fuss, no whining. And apparently, no doubt on their part. The entire process is "wonder-full,” and this year, I took more time to acknowledge it, and found that wonder can be generated by many other experiences, if I stop to look.
A healthy body is also a product of my garden. As I bend to plant, and later to weed, as I carry tools, empty the wheelbarrow, haul hoses around, my stamina and flexibility increase. My body responds to the extra activity, my step quickens. The food grown in my garden is produced without chemicals, and is absolutely fresh, so that when we sit down to supper, we relish the variety of tastes and textures that nourish us. We eat more berries and vegetables, sometimes getting creative with the omnipresent zucchini. Who knew you can grill them on the BBQ, or stuff them and bake in the oven?
When there are too many berries to eat right away, and too many beans, or an abundance of zucchini (isn’t there always?), it is time to freeze them, or make jams and pickles. In this way, our garden continues to enrich our life throughout the year. However, I believe the most enduring thing produced in this year’s garden has been gratitude. Gratitude for the garden, the food produced, the life it enhances, and the lessons it teaches.
So if you see a picture of a large basket overflowing with beautiful garden products, don’t forget to look for the unseen harvest, and plant a few seeds yourself!
Jean Wrohan is a Science of Mind student who gardens and writes in Campbell River.