Lessons from the Harvest

Lessons from the Harvest

All the work that went into creating and maintaining the garden is coming to an end. Now comes the work of preserving for the future and enjoying the abundance from the land.

Abundance is something to be thankful for and that is why we celebrate Thanksgiving in the fall, reminding us of the Giver of All Good Things and thanking Him for blessing us with the fruit of our labor.

Growing up with family in farm country, harvest time with a multigenerational affair. Everyone was involved, from those who worked in the fields to those who worked in the kitchen. My favorite memories were of the meals my mom and aunts and grandmother cooked up for suppertime – always hot and hearty comfort foods that could be eaten quickly standing up in the field.

The men and women working in the field would continue to bring in the grain or crops or bale straw until we arrived with coolers and picnic baskets of food. Everyone would gather around and dinner would be served up, grace said and we’d all eat and chat for a brief period. Then we’d gather up the remnants, head back to the house to clean up while the rest stayed in the field to get as much done before they could no longer see in the dark.

There was always a celebratory air of fun with uncles, aunts, and neighbors all pitching in.  The next night it would be repeated again at another farm until everyone in the co-op was done.

In the fall kitchen there were also gatherings of women, chatting and putting up food for the winter. This process had been going on all summer, but fall was the time when you had to get things wrapped up.

I loved the smell of the root cellar where all the vegetables were stored in a cold underground environment. I remember the musty, earthy smell as you went down the cellar stairs and the bins of potatoes and carrots and squash under the shelves with row upon row of jars with all sorts of jeweled colors of food preserved for the remainder of the year, until the next garden was planted the following spring. Jams and jellies, pickles and relishes, and tomatoes lined up in every form imaginable. My mother-in-law made her own ketchup and condiments, my aunts canned meat and homemade soups.

Since we lived in the city and visited when there was work to be done, I was always eager to see what the year had produced, but not so eager to have to do the work. My cousins told me I had it easy since we didn’t make it out every time there was preserving to do. I know that nothing tasted quite like it, and we were always glad to take jars home in exchange for the labor.

Of course, my mother did plenty of her own canning even living off the farm. I guess it is bred in you because I still can and preserve from my garden and have to admit I still get just as excited as my pantry fills up with jars of food.

We have been blessed indeed.

A Simple Blessing (often sung as a round)

For health and strength and daily bread, we praise thy name O Lord.

Saying Grace

Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord, Amen.”

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