Friday, September 11, 2009


Today I feel content. As I stood at my kitchen counter, the sun shining and a soft breeze drifting through the window, I felt content. I was chopping tomatoes and peppers that I picked moments earlier from the little garden at the side of my house. To those I added cilantro and onion, garlic and lemon juice... just a hint of ground cumin and a dash of salt. The bright red tomatoes were so plump and juicy, they claimed their right to be a fruit.

Next to me on the counter dried pinto beans were simmering in a crock pot. When they are soft I will toss them into the frying pan with a healthy cup of the chicken stock that I made last night from the remains of a roasted chicken we had for dinner. My family will enjoy a Mexican fiesta tonight! But the joy I was feeling was not in anticipation of a party... instead it was satisfaction from knowing that the work I was doing was sustaining the lives of the people I love.

Sure, I could run up to the store to buy salsa in a plastic tub for $4.29... Garden Fresh Salsa that has an expiration date and a bar code stamped on its side. My tomatoes didn't have a bar code. Instead they had the stamp of my love, the hours spent planting and watering and weeding, harvesting and chopping. My work is saving my family money on groceries, it's providing nutitious alternatives to prepackaged foods, and it's saving my mental health all in one shot!

Next year I plan to dig up more shrubs and grass so that I can plant onions and cilantro, potatoes and enough tomato plants to can for the winter. My garlic should provide healthy cloves next year, and the strawberries along the side of our patio should bear two harvests as long as the birds leave them alone. I want to plant enough fruits and vegetables to provide the bulk of our family's produce, plus some to share! I also hope to have my children more involved in the work of the garden, so that they too can feel this sense of importance, of knowing that they are needed, not just wanted.

This is my way of taking smaller steps toward a larger goal. Of course, communal living on twenty-five acres of carefully horticulturally crafted land seems a long way off. But next summer's planting is near.

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