Ye reap what ye sow

I’ve just made a gigantic pot of “Harvest Soup,” filled with garden goodness of homegrown vegetables like butternut squash (of which we have enough to solve world hunger), onions, carrots, leeks, and garlic.
The chicken stock was brewed on my own stove from the carcasses of happy, organically-fed chickens—chickens who spent their days in the sunshine under the fruit trees and digging in the garden.
This soup is so good, in fact, that I see myself running faster than a speeding bullet and leaping tall buildings in a single bound after I have slurped back a bowlful. I very well may be transferred into something bordering on bionic.
Building soup truly is the beauty of this time of year: harvest time. It’s all good—the rich colours in the fields and trees, the stove humming with salsas and soups and stews, the jars of bounty stacked up on cold-room shelves filled with pickles and jams and jellies, and the paper bags full of potatoes and onions.
It does the soul a happy service that feeling of fortification, of storing away for later, of bracing for winter. The same can be said of stacks of firewood.
It is the busy ant inside us all, given the opportunity, that has us doing such things, like the squirrel that hides away his nutty treasures for later, the dog and his bone. We’re all driven to do the same.
David works hard in the garden, tending to the soil with his compost, pulling weeds, tying up peas and beans, and getting repeatedly stung by hornets who insist on building homes under the raspberries and blueberries out of sight—ready to attack when he least expects it.
And then I join in at harvest, and feel honourable and wholesome and noble eating our organic garden crops, having helped very little over the summer (credit where credit due, I say).
I’m still wandering to the garden for swiss chard that has held firm against the frost, for carrots and onions; wandering to my perpetual grocery store growing in my own backyard.
This thing, this green wonder, is such a treasure. We have raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and haskap. We have asparagus and garlic, and just about everything in between.
We had turnips the size of basketballs this year and more crooked neck summer squash than anyone needs considering we don’t even remember planting them. But “Gracie” happily drags one along with her on just about every walk this fall, stashing the squash in the woods until the return trip.
We had volunteer cilantro peeking out of every spare corner of the garden and some kind of artichoke that has no real purpose, aside from being strange and lovely. We had abundant tomatoes bursting off the vine until a terrible blight swooped down and gobbled them all up.
We had cauliflower that didn’t amount to much, Brussels sprouts too shy to emerge, and broccoli infested with tiny green worms. We couldn’t keep ahead of the lettuce that went to seed while the beets were delicious but tiny and not many.
The green beans for which I have a serious aversion just kept coming and coming. The hurricane that swept through in late summer claimed the lives of our second go of peas.
And now it’s over—fall is here and the garden has wilted and quieted, and much too soon it will be buried in snow, the soil snoozing and resting and waiting for the sign to erupt again.
And this time I promise to help. Promises don’t always see fruition, but my intentions at this moment are at their very best.
wendistewart@live.ca

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