Autumn Harvest

Life on our little urban farm is an ongoing adventure that bonds us to our home more each day. Some friends come by and see the yard, with it’s towering tomato plants and scattered pots of herbs and can only say, “Looks like a lot of work!”. Sure, there is labor involved but it’s certainly one of love. Is there any better of a reward than to taste a ripened tomato, fresh from the vine, that’s still warm from the sun? Or the slight twang of fresh pineapple mint that’s infused in a pitcher of sun tea all afternoon? I think not.

We managed to get a few big things done this weekend around the house. The majority of our herbs are now harvested and dried, and it was actually a therapeutic process. While my love took my car in for an oil change Saturday morning, I bundled up in the rain and brought in arm loads of two different kinds of sage, pineapple mint and what was left of the Italian basil. After she got back home, we carefully washed and sorted herbs while we sang aloud to musical favorites blasting from the iPod. And yesterday, I managed to get the compost bin built in a corner of the yard. Now if it would only stay dry enough for me to mow so that I can begin to fill it with leaves and grass clippings, I’d be a happy composter.

Why go to all this trouble? For the love of food, of course! I’ve come to the conclusion that FOOD is my favorite romance language. Perhaps it stems from years of just barely getting by but I have come to accept and even love my obsession with all things of a culinary nature. I’ve also found an incomparable bond to family traditions, some that I might have otherwise forgotten all together. I posted a few weeks ago about my cousin and grandmother putting up soup for the winter. I thought about that familiar soup while I sorted fresh herbs and the aromas, both from memory and at hand, fluttered through my senses. It left me with a strong desire to, not only embrace, but to enhance those family traditions.

I just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and it left a real impression on my goals. It’s not realistic for me to actually raise and grow every single thing we eat but it’s very possible to be more responsible about our food choices. A big part of that for me is gardening and it’s sparked an even larger desire for knowledge. Which is why I’ve been soaking up books on composting and canning and thinking about upcoming experiments for the dehydrator.

I received a call recently from a friend who is also a southern transplant. In laughter, she reiterated a recipe that her grandmother was sharing with her. The instructions included “pick a few peppers from the garden” and I had to smile. For country folks, a garden is literally a part of life and it’s hard to imagine sustaining without it. For urban southerners, like myself, it’s usually “where there’s a will, there’s a way” mentality. I’m lucky enough to have some land to work with and a patient parnter that shares my desire for a more sustainable existence.

Today marks the first day of Autumn and I find myself cherishing each of the little miracles that I’ve helped bring into the world. Every tomato, bean and pepper that are still on the vine let me forget the cool breeze and hold onto the fruits of summer for just a little longer.