I was out in the garden yesterday morning (what a gorgeous fall day!) and as I was digging a hole to plant the fennel,
I found myself thinking, “Why do I bother to do all of this out here?” As I paused to give my back a break, I looked around at all we’ve accomplished this fall. I took in the sweet little plants that are starting to peek out of the soil and heard the cluck, cluck, cluck of the chickens next to me. A deep breath filled me…. Such a blessing to be part of the rhythm of life. My eyes move across the garden, taking in the incredible abundance and growth surrounding me.
So, why do I bother? I realize, yet again, that this sanctuary is not only a place of physical labor. It is also a place of inspiration and comfort.The food that I grow sustains me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined without experiencing it.
In the busyness of our lives, it is easy to become disconnected from the cycles of the seasons. The excessive amount of food in the grocery stores woos us into the feeling that we can have anything at anytime. The cost of this excess is hidden by colorful displays, bright lights and happy music.
When I get caught up in this frantic energy of modern life, I have the garden sanctuary to embrace me. Simply walking out
into the garden, smelling the humus of the soil, watching the chickens or the cats at play all bring me back to myself and what is important in my life. The cats are wonderful examples for me. They move around busily for short bursts of time and the stop and watch to see what is the next step. Putting my hands into the soil, so hard to resist, brings me deeper into myself and my inherent connection to what surrounds me – the bigger aspects of life.
Following the natural cycles of the seasons teaches us the true order of life. As people our lives mimic the garden’s rhythms even when busyness keeps us from seeing it happening. If you look back across the years of your life, you can see periods of growth just like a young plant, times of flourishing that bring a feeling of having bloomed in spring. In the fullness of our lives, there is a feeling of productivity and accomplishment – of bearing succulent summer fruit – juicy and ripe. We reap a harvest every time a goal comes to fruition or we reach the end of a chapter. In the autumn of life, there can be feelings of melancholy and letting go, just as a tree lets go of its leaves each year.
Perhaps you can remember a moment in life when everything was at a standstill, waiting for seeds to sprout – a new direction in life, growth. This is a dark time, a time of quiet and reflection, like winter. This winter-like experience has a purpose in our lives, just as it does in nature. Without these times of quiet dormancy, there would be no integration and rejuvenation. The spurts of growth that come following times of dormancy set the stage for the harvest that is reaped further on. And on and on it goes…
Here’s a recipe from my cookbook for you to enjoy the fall harvest.
Delicious Delicata Squash Barley Soup
2-3 cups delicata squash, peeled and cut in squares 6 small-medium carrots, shredded
½ head green cabbage, chopped ½ daikon radish, shredded
1 cup barley 2 stalks celery, chopped
handful of wakame seaweed 1 tsp. Dried orange peel
6-7 cups water
Place water in large soup pot and bring to a boil. Add barley, turn down to simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare vegetables. Add vegetables after barley cooking time is done. Simmer another 20 minutes. Add orange peel. Turn off heat. Serve after five minutes.