with thanks

i promised a 4-part series all about glass and this time next week the fourth instalment will be published. 

but with Canadian Thanksgiving come and gone, daylight savings passed, snow on the ground (in November........), American Thanksgiving upon us, and the last of the vegetables being pulled from the ground, i would be remiss if i didn't take a minute to reflect on this year's harvest.

abundant vegetable harvest
the gift of an abundant harvest

this gardening year was meant to be one of experimentation.

we are coming to understand the amount of work our garden requires and the yields it produces. we have figured out which veggies store well, which ones we eat most (and in what quantities), what we can reasonably save for seed, and what is just plain ol' fun to grow.

Three sisters garden corn squash beans
the Three-Sisters in all their glory: corn, beans & squash

in the garden, experimenting means trying new vegetables, new varieties of our standbys, and push the limits of what veg we can grow in our climate.

after what was almost a non-existent winter, a record breaking frost in June lead to a hot, dry summer that now holds its own records. fall has been short and very wet. 

harvest is traditionally a time of abundance and for giving thanks. and with this, comes reflection. 

this year has taught me that i am not as resilient as i thought i was.

we worked our way through the frosts and were luckier than many. the dry heat brought its own challenges of weeds and pests and they quickly got out of control.

when cooler weather crops that we traditionally harvest all summer and into the fall went to seed mid-summer; rather then getting some more starts in the ground for a fall harvest, i bemoaned their absence.

i was not present. there was no grace. every moment in the garden was filled with stress and a purpose to "save what i can".

radish seed pod and flower
remembering to be thankful for seeds to harvest. some seasons aren't hot or long enough for some vegetables to produce viable seed pods.

with the unexpected weather came loss and struggle and i all but ignored the experimental crops - which, of course, defeats their purpose entirely.

for the first time in memory, i did not enjoy the garden. i didn't enjoy the peace i find there - in the work, or in its offerings.

we had a challenging year, and our crops and spirits reflect it. 

now i find myself, wrapped in the calm that hangs in the air between storms, digging parsnips from the muddy ground, under a crust of snow.

it is immediately apparent that we have never had such a crop of parsnips!

fall parsnip harvest
a beautiful and bountiful crop of parsnips this year!

this was one of our experiments. a new-to-us variety from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. one that i had the forethought, i'm thrilled to say, to have planted a second patch to be left to overwinter and seed next year.

a triumph! something to bring me back to reality and remind me of the gifts the garden brings.

i will scribble some notes in my garden journal and close the book for a couple of months. i always look forward to the new seed catalogues, but this time i know i will be looking at them with fresh eyes and a new heart. choosing next year's crops will involve the lessons this year's harvest has taught me.

winter harvest brussels sprouts
i love growing brassicas of all types, and brussels sprouts are second only to broccoli. i get a thrill walking out in the late fall and early winter to pick some fresh sprouts for dinner.

there is a lot to be thankful for in this life. from the food we eat, the people we share it with, to the lessons we learn along the way. 

as we head into the holiday season - a time of great giving and taking - i will leave you with the principles that govern the indigenous practice of The Honorable Harvest. it is something i believe is of great importance to our time on the earth - but its principles should not be limited to our relationship with the earth. these rules can easily be reflected in the purchases we make and the way we care for our relationships with others and ourselves.

(the full article can be found here: Yes! Magazine, The "Honorable Harvest": Lessons From an Indigenous Tradition of Giving Thanks - Robin Wall Kimmerer.)

"Ask permission of the ones whose lives you seek. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last.
Harvest in a way that minimizes harm. 
Take only what you need and leave some for others.
Use everything that you take. 
Take only that which is given to you. 
Share it, as the Earth has shared with you. 
Be grateful. 
Reciprocate the gift.
Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the Earth will last forever."
entwined parsnip
everybody loves a cute veggie photo - i couldn't resist :)

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