It’s still early August in the Midwest, but this past week’s weather is definitely September-leaning. The light has shifted in the yard, making for more golden sunrises and sunsets. The air is dense with anticipation of a changing season as the calendar itself beckons children everywhere back to school.
Our raised gardens are fuller now with the fruits and vegetables of our early spring and summer labor. It’s a wonderful time of year when our plates overflow with abundance - so much so that our community turns to sharing our beautiful, collective bounty.
Each year at this time, our friends, family and neighbors all swap zucchini for carrots, tomatoes for cucumbers, and so on. We all tend to grow different fruits and vegetables, and perhaps there is a subconscious motivation to do so. We know that the end of summer will yield a kind of fresh produce potluck where we will all benefit from each other’s caring work in our separate gardens. For some of us, it’s become a kind of ritual to meet at the fence with veggies in hand, offering what we cannot use.
Our One Small Garden raised beds feed us in so many ways. We spend time with them through the year nurturing growth. They give us sustenance for ourselves. And then, they encourage us to commune with others. We look forward to hearing how Susan successfully grew broccoli this year. Her stories lead her to tell us how her family is faring and none of us can believe her youngest is going to graduate in a few years. Bob tells us of his recent travels in Yellowstone as he hands over basil and thyme. The stories of our lives are sown into these precious vegetables and we consume them in many places outside of the dining room table.
Exchanges like this bring with them a quiet reflection that will surely deepen as the colder months draw nearer. Memories of putting our hands in the warm soil and the feeling of the sun on our cheeks will sustain us when Cincinnati turns grey for a solid two months in from January through February. We’ll relish the time spent cultivating food and friendships in our backyards and look forward to the earth tilting and the sun growing brighter again.
But until then, we still have much harvesting to do, food to share and stories to tell. I’ll plan on bringing the corn. You bring the radishes, friend.