Thursday, October 9, 2014

Green and gold

I stood at my kitchen sink, October sunshine warming the rug inside the front door. Laughter streamed in as well, and I looked out to find this scene...
The alder was a sapling when my parents began to create a home on this land. Today I watched my mama and my grandpap affix swings to its branches, my children laughing under its canopy of green and gold.

God is good.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The orchard

I am learning from the orchard this year. I wrote about it here last winter...the pruning. And then spring arrived, jewel-toned greens and frothy pastels. The orchard was beautiful.

The promise in those blooms was tangible, scented with hope. Within weeks, tiny fruit grew in thick clusters, and Alex called me to the garden to explain the next season...thinning. I was aghast...hadn't we just pruned, cut back, these trees? Could we really throw more away, trusting in a more abundant harvest?  He flipped open the book, pointing out truths in carefully organized chapters, "It has been demonstrated time and again that no work in fruit-raising is more important than thinning... It results not only in a much finer product, but it is also a means of destroying the insect-infested and diseased specimens, and of saving the energies and vitality of the tree."

 And there it was again, the reminder that in taking away, we gain something better. I am a slow learner. It took the seasons of pruning and thinning before I found the sweetest harvest yet. And what a season it was...
Yes, we had apple scab and rust, and implementing "integrated pest management" (i.e. the company of these pretty ladies) we tackled leaf-rollers (and fondly remembered a college summer spent working with entomologists).

We could have thinned with a heavier hand. We needed a little more help with those leaf-rollers, and we didn't knock out the rust and scab. But by September the limbs hung heavy with fruit. So heavy, in fact, that we had to prop up tired boughs. And, again, I wondered at what I could learn from this...that even when we followed the guidelines, pruned away the excess, we would still need help
bearing the weight. Oh, the lessons in these trees... 
I think of the orchardist's text again, the importance of taking away some of the promised harvest, in order to save the "energy and vitality of the tree." The summer was full. But it wasn't too full. And the word for my year, the seeking of "quiet" for my soul? I felt it. I practiced it in saying "no" to some good things. And I felt it at the gift of free afternoons spent by the river and impromptu music made by the campfire and books read aloud on the couch with sun-kissed limbs threaded through mine. The pruning and thinning had yielded these gifts of quiet...sweet, satisfying, abundant, enough.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


My mama tends a garden. I understand more clearly how we are made to create, to tend the earth, because of the work of her hands, the joy she finds in the dirt and the green. I am a grateful recipient of her produce and her creativity.
Her September garden is the loveliest.  
Sweetpeas and nasturtiums embroider the fence.

Bachelor buttons edge the carrot bed.

Trellised green beans stand tall behind fragrant phlox.

Roses bloom crimson against abundant squash vines and their hidden gold.

She brings potatoes, sweet corn, and tomatoes to my door before her shoes are left at hers. And I marvel at this...the gift of learning to create and share beauty from a little patch of dirt. My mama's garden is lovely...just like my mama.