There comes a time in August when hints of fall suggest a slower pace, yet the summer remains far from over, and the abundance of the garden threatens to overtake us. The weeds are noticeably slower in their growth, and plants both cultivated and wild seem to be pulling inward, ready for the winter they instinctually know to be coming. Nevertheless, the garden crops are just reaching their apex, all their growth from the summer’s heat culminating in a cornucopia of produce that outpaces our appetites. Over the next two months, the denouement into colder seasons, the preservation of the harvest is imperative: storing for the dark days of winter what the long days of summer created.
In the midst of this process is where we currently find ourselves. What had in springtime seemed like a few short rows of string beans now produces pounds upon pounds of snap beans each week. The kale grows before our eyes. Turnips must be stored before they turn woody, large beets must be pickled before a visiting critter chooses them for a late summer meal; the garlic, onions, and shallots are ready to be pulled, and the early potatoes have died back to the ground. Herbs are to be dried, and there’s so much to eat!
It is a small Eden that we’ve created, yet despite the abundance it provides us, we still spend many days each week working off-site for income. Add committees and meetings and volunteer work, and suddenly time seems short for the very home-grown projects awaiting us in our garden beds.
We harvested and hung the alliums in early August, a quick task completed before family came to visit. Batches of herbs have been bundled and hung as space allows, and the first potato harvest will be done by the time you’re reading this. The other tasks have also been checked off, but here is where the title of this becomes so relevant: many generations.
With this, you may have guessed, I not-so-obliquely reference my parents. Having moved to the other side of our hill last year, we four – my mother, father, Ryan and I - have lives that beautifully speak of intergenerational work.
Which is to say: my parents are always there in the nick of time. Their basement serves as our root cellar (where I now have turnips stored in sand and potatoes spread to cure), their kitchen the site of our preservation operations on hot summer days. With time seeming to compress as I watched the kale, beans, and beets grow beyond our control, it was my mother who willingly welcomed baskets and sacks of produce – then preserved them for us all to share come winter.
I am much relieved with such tasks completed, for sure, thanks to their helping hands. Their enthusiasm to do so speaks volumes, more, even, then their acts themselves. And so this is about thanks – for the plenty that we have, yes and gratitude to those closest, without whom plenty would be lost.
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