Me When Harvestís Over
donít really want to be writing this. No offense. Having
this space to write is a privilege, not a chore. Itís just
that upstairs there are two massive bags of greens that should
be blanched and frozen before they wilt. And maybe 10 pounds
of tomatoes to can, and piles of apples and crabapples and
rose hips waiting to be made into apple butter and jam. Not
to mention the berries and tomatoes we froze and now need
to can to make room for the rest of the greens and the pesto.
I need to look up how to best dry my stevia plant, and Iíve
been itching to buy extra farmers market corn to freeze.
Well, no one made you become an urban farm wife, you might
Youíre right. But see, Iím not complaining about all those
things. Iím itching to get to them. Iím tantalized by the
prospect of having enough frozen garden veggies to see us
through to next summer, and love walking in to the smell of
apple butter. The sight of two and half gallons of crushed
tomatoes lined up neatly in their pint jars on my table is
incredibly satisfying, as is the turn of the crank that turns
the cooked apples into applesauce, the shoulder ache from
trimming too many green beans at a sitting, and the assembly
line process Iíve begun to hone that turns a pile of fresh-picked
greens into neat little bags piled in the freezer.
Itís been a good year for us in terms of homegrown food. I
finally forcibly scheduled enough regular gardening time into
my week to make it through most of the growing season without
losing my grip on the learning curve, and landing flat on
my back in the weeds and rotten tomatoes. Itís been fun, exciting,
frustrating, tiring, and empowering. I squished approximately
13.4 gazillion bean beetles, dug up my first potatoes, and
discovered by accident that green tomatoes will ripen inside
a compost pile.
And all that means Iíve brought home a lot of food. With apple
season also upon us and my familyís insatiable demand for
crabapple jam, that means we have a lot of produce lying around
right now. Produce that takes time and effort to store. After
work, after dinner, after kidís bedtime . . . we keep finding
ourselves starting these projects late in the evening, or
sacrificing a rare weekend day. And thatís why I keep finding
myself tempted to leave the computer, leave my deadlines,
leave my little office with a view of a brick wall, and get
my hands dirty in the kitchen.
Thatís what feels appropriate. Itís harvest season,
after all. Canít I get back to this other stuff once it gets
This is what I get for getting myself more entangled in the
changing seasons. Iíve always enjoyed the wheel of the year,
but my sense of the timing and order was a little hazy: ďWell,
the equinox is on March 21, but of course spring doesnít really
start up here until a little later.Ē My gardening and foraging
this year had me noticing everything from last frost to when
the cottonwood seed started blowing.
It was pretty satisfying, but thing is that once you start
reconnecting to these rhythms, itís hard to disentangle your
brain again. And yet neither my bills nor my deadlines care
that itís fall, that the apples are ripening, and that ripe
tomatoes donít last forever. Finding that balance feels, though,
like the right problem to be working. Iím already looking
ahead to planning some time off next September.
I would love to just end this as a little musing about one
more part of the slow process of learning on a personal scale
to live in a lower energy, more local, more rooted way. But
of course Iím not a hermit. And the big news of the past weeksóbanks
collapsing, markets tanking, government proving its shameless
preference for bailing out corporations over regular peopleóis
looming in the background to remind me just how tiny my efforts
If Iíd written a whole column on the economy right now, it
would have been titled ďSucks to have been right for several
decades,Ē by which I wouldnít have meant me in particular,
but the legions of people out there who have been called all
sorts of nasty names (when they werenít completely ignored)
for daring to suggest that banks ought to be regulated, that
predatory mortgage fraud was rampant, that market failures
are real and dangerous, that corporate welfare is not only
unfair but unproductive, and that economies ought to stay
connected to realityóto goods and services of concrete value,
exchanged with each other to the greater benefit of the community.
Any response to whatís happening right now that doesnít move
us in that direction, that doesnít end the deification of
Wall Street, that doesnít remove the ďmoral hazard,Ē where
financial companies expect to be bailed out in ways they would
heap scorn and condescension on any struggling individual
for hoping for, is worse than an unprecedented transfer of
taxpayer money to the reckless, amoral, superrich. Itís losing
an opportunity to get ourselves on a better track and remove
from our economic infrastructure some of the overwhelming
hostility to building truly healthy, resilient economies.
If we donít get started now, itíll hurt even more next time.
Itís harvest time in more than one way. Itís a joy to carry
home the bounty of the earth. Too bad weíre all carrying a
home portion of what corporate triumphalism has sown as well.