land of plenty

This is the smallest Fall garden we’ve grown in the last ten years, and still we are overflowing with food. It wasn’t hard to plant too much. In fact it was easy, and really, it isn’t too much. We will feed ourselves, our family and friends, and our chickens will have greens to eat, too. Also, the rest of the garden gets a nice meal of clover and rye to digest over the winter months, so everyone, including the soil flora and fauna, is happy, and still there is plenty.plenty radishes

This was the worst harvest of winter squashes we’ve ever had. We gambled on an experiment with the field corn, and we lost the gamble. But still, there is enough. Especially considering our children only really like squash in the form of pie, or the delicatas, which don’t keep half as well as butternuts. So, again there’s plenty.

There are also plenty of onions, plenty of garlic, plenty of sweet potatoes and white potatoes, stashed throughout the house. There are jars upon jars of tomatoes and fruit, of beans and grains. We have so much.plenty rice

Outside, there is a thriving population of deer running in the woods. One or two may find their way into our freezer. There’s also a fox in the neighborhood, which will keep us on our toes, making sure no more chickens make their way into that belly. Lots of critters. Plenty to do.

There are plenty of leaves blowing around now, shedding from the trees, dancing in the sky on gusts of wind that gather force on their way over the ridge and back down, covering the garden with their goodness, filling the creek and making the crossings deeper.plenty moon in trees

There is plenty of water, clearer and colder now as it soaks in the cool night air under the thinning canopy, the increasing view of the bright stars. We drive through the water on our way in and out of the hollow. We wash with it, our clothes, our dishes, our home, our bodies. We cook with it, and after a few filtrations, we drink it too. It bubbles up from the ground after long rains. It keeps our garden alive, and sometimes there is an over-abundance and the roots of the parsley rot from too much water.

Truly, this is the land of plenty.

Truly, we are grateful for this abundance.

Now, the trick is to remember that living in the land of plenty does not mean that we can just wallow in this goodness and be lazy. Living in paradise is a great privilege, and an awesome responsibility.

Somehow, it is easy to want more. Strangely enough, it seems especially easy to want more when we already have so much.

How often have our children asked to get out more toys while they sit in the midst of a floor full of wooden train tracks, matchbox cars and unfinished puzzle pieces? We tell them that they have to put something away before they can get anything else out, and in the process of tending to their playthings, they sometimes forget that they ever wanted anything else anyway. I can relate.plenty tomato cages

When I tend to what has been given to me, the desire to acquire slackens. When I do not attend to my responsibilities, the mess of it all quickly becomes overwhelming and I long for something more and different than the plenty that is already present, and waiting for me to attend to it.  Likewise, as I attend to what is most needful, that natural abundance increases of its own accord, with or without my desire attached to it.

I’m not a politician (thank heavens!), nor do I wish to be. But I do wish that politics happened in greater relationship to the Living World. If that were the case, I think things would be different on this planet.

As it is, I belong to the Agrestian Party (yeah, look that one up), and regularly attend the Church of the Living Soil. Though my mind may wander, these feet of mine remain planted on the Good Earth, firmly, in this land of plenty.

(As a post script, I’d like to say that what our friends at Hill and Hollow Farm are doing with their Indiegogo campaign – please support it here – is not striving for MORE, but inviting community support of the stewardship and beautiful outreach and education that is their life’s work.  When we support one another this way – and in whatever way we can – the tide rises and lifts us all.)plenty bok choy

the fall

IMG_4790Nature is abundant. Some years the abundance is more apparent than others; some years you have to dig a little deeper to find it. But this year… this year here in Bugtussle is truly outrageous. Not only have our cultivated gardens been extremely prolific this season, the more wild offerings of field and forest are overflowing, too.IMG_4777The growing season itself has been fairly unusual, with lots of moisture early on, and cooler temperatures throughout. A slow and patient season it has been, indeed. We didn’t really experience the common (at least to us) mid-summer slump this year, when the spike of summer growth wanes and you’re biting your nails anticipating fall crops. We’ve certainly had some challenges along the way, but for the most part were able to roll with the punches and still come up smiling. IMG_4775Right now, our days flow from one nibble here to the next nibble over there. After a lunch of gorging on hot sweet potatoes fresh from the oven and laden with bright yellow butter, Eric and I stepped out of the front door to graze from the fig trees around our house for dessert. We both ate until we were nearly foundered, and Eric still had a shirt full. We have bowls and baskets full of pawpaws and persimmons, the two most divine native fruits imaginable, in my opinion. The children have been gathering nuts like frenzied little mice, leaving trails of brown-staining hulls and shells everywhere.IMG_4772There are pumpkins and winter squashes galore. The tomato vines are still laden. We are still eating watermelons, for crying out loud! And they are growing right next to a giant patch of kale that’s ready to be harvested! The clash of the seasons, indeed! We are harvesting our first hardy kiwi fruit (not the brown fuzzy offering found in grocery stores, but a small, smooth-skinned variety that grows well in our climate and with a taste quite similar to the more common kiwi) from the trellis around our outdoor kitchen. And earlier today, I harvested a basketful of shiitakes that had volunteered on logs that we had long since given up on trying to get to produce fruit, as they are rotting into the ground. There is food everywhere. You just have to stop a moment and look around. But if you stand in one place for too long, you risk getting hit in the head by food falling from the trees. This is the very music that fills our days (and nights!) right now: the sound of the acorns falling from the many oak trees that surround our house, hammering our tin roof. IMG_4771The children are able to snack so much while we are working in the gardens, that mealtimes have been a lot less pressured lately. And when they are creating the snacks themselves, it seems their palettes are so much more adventurous! While Eric and I were grubbing sweet potatoes (lots and lots of them, too!) this afternoon, the girls were busy picnic-ing on “tacos” consisting of a celery leaf wrapped around cherry tomatoes, celery stalks, and whatever else they deemed gourmet fare. I need not worry about them getting their daily quota of fruits and veggies! IMG_4750Sometimes, when my mind is clear to think it’s thoughts (this usually coincides with when the children are occupied elsewhere), I ponder what all of this abundance means. Are we just experiencing a little forgiveness for the especially challenging season of record high temperatures and drought of last summer? Should we be heeding a warning that this coming winter might be particularly brutal? (And that we should be sufficiently stocking up?) Is the pendulum going to swing the other way next summer, from abundance to absence? Obviously, I don’t know the answers to these questions. Time will take care of that. So, for now, I suppose I’ll just have to sit back and wallow in all of this glorious abundance and marvel at what is happening around me: the fallIMG_4788