After a long, hot summer, we should be feeling a bit of change in the air.
Evenings are a bit cooler; the days are getting shorter and here in the mountains we have a tinge of rust and gold glimmering in the trees. It won’t be long and farmers will be bringing in the last of their harvest and stocking up for the long winter months ahead. My dad was a farmer and this pivotal time of year reminds me of his analogies of farming and the importance of a good and timely harvest of the lessons of life.
As any good farmer worth their salt knows, planting season is a key element if you are to have any hope of an abundant crop. When our world changed a few months ago, our way of being and our way of engaging our homes and families took a turn inward in a good way for many. I discovered my green thumb. Let me qualify that, I discovered my desire to have a green thumb.
You would think with a dad and a brother in the farming business of onions along with chili and herbs, I would genetically have a head start. Not so! I discovered that farming takes a lot of planning, from choosing the seeds, finding the perfect location or, in my case, the perfect place for container gardening, and analyzing soil composition, which is a whole science in itself.
Thankfully, my mom’s decorating talents did show up in her daughter. After choosing just the right color of cobalt blue, flowered planters, comfortably lined gloves and a floppy straw hat, I felt at least I looked the part of a successful farmer.
Another essential ingredient in the world of horticulture is patience. As we know, a watched pot never boils and a watched seed does not seem to grow under an impatient eye. I was beginning to remember quips from my dad about life and farming; about the quality quotient, he would call it. He would refer to life as a big farming experiment. According to him, choosing carefully who and what you want in your own field are the groundwork for a quality life and a great harvest.
With this in mind, I began to engage my backyard farming with a sense of wonder and a gentle attitude of thankfulness for the possibility of forthcoming abundance. Once the blossoms began to appear on my yellow squash and zucchini, I really got jazzed about what a great farmer I had become. It seemed miraculous to me that something so small as a seed could produce something that with egg wash, cornmeal, and a hot skillet could fry into this southern girl’s favorite side dish. Once I spotted the big yellow and green gifts, something strange happened. I just couldn’t bring myself to actually pick them. I got such joy watching them grow, I just couldn’t pick them. That is until my girlfriend spotted the giant squash still on the vine and asked, why not?
What made such sense to me was just silliness to her. She asked, “What do you think growing is about?” She went on to drive home her own analogy of crops being like lessons in life and when it is time to harvest, a much-needed lesson. If we ignore it and don’t take the opportunity, the lesson just becomes tougher to harvest; to learn. This was all sounding far too familiar. I invited her to stay for southern fried squash and fresh vine-ripened tomatoes. As I began to hunt for ripe tomatoes, I realized the ones ready for picking two days earlier were already past their prime. One was even beginning to rot on the bottom side that was lying next to the ground. My squash was big and ready though, so I focused all my culinary efforts in their direction. As I cut into the huge vegetables, I felt hollowness. The inside had become fibrous and tough. I was sure that frying them in hot bacon grease would remedy this. Not so. No amount of coating or seasoning could bring back their original peak flavor. They, like the tomatoes, were past their prime.
I began to consider times in my own life that I was resistant to harvesting important lessons in a timely manner. I too had waited until it was a tougher, harder lesson to learn. Sometimes, I missed the lesson altogether and got to revisit that weed-infested garden again. What a waste of time, emotion, and heartache when I could have just paid attention and taken the harvest when it was ripe.
How do we know when it’s time? We do that by paying attention, becoming mindful about what is transpiring in our own garden, and being brave enough to stay in the field when it becomes too hot and uncomfortable. The last thing we want is a life full of unlearned lessons and lost opportunities to grow. Your hollow-sounding justifications will leave you with nothing for the long winter of life that inevitably visits us all.
Abundance is your choice. You alone are the cultivator of your experience. Bring in your crop and enjoy a life filled with the fruits of your labor.