Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Unplanned harvest

"His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate,
neither is there any to deliver them.
Whose harvest the hungry eateth up,
and taketh it even out of the thorns...
Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust,
neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;
Yet man is born unto trouble,
as the sparks fly upward.
I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause."
Job 5: 5-11
We lost another baby two days ago.
All of my life, my parents had a garden. A huge, sprawling, organic garden with all of the fixin's. I can still see the rows of tomatoes, carrots and corn stalks. Every year I would name the tallest stalks after my favorite TV characters. I cried when it was time to eat "Nanny" and "The Professor". We ate all summer from the fruits of our labors, and from the veggies, too. I always knew I would have an amazing garden of my own someday.
It turns out that I am a pretty disappointing gardeness. In my attempts to go organic, I share my crop with all creeping things within a five mile radius. I kinda' forget to water... a lot. My compost pile has produced an earthen hive of bumble bees and a tragic little rat's nest (tragic because day old baby rats cannot be kept alive by amateurs with eye droppers when you accidentally destroy their nest with a shovel). It has not, however, ever produced usable compost. Genetics have failed me. I have two left thumbs, neither one green.
Yesterday I went out to the garden to (finally) water, and realized that not only were there a handful of dinky ripe tomatoes, but the grapes were ready as well. I picked until my hands tumbled with bunches of small, sweet grapes and plumpish tomatoes. Then I remembered my little peach tree. I planted it a year ago, just a bare-root stick that I bought at the Grocery Outlet for $6 (a fortune more than my $4 grape vine from two years before). I'd had visions of canning and gifting from my abundant garden to friends and neighbors. I have this same vision every year, but my largest harvest has usually been a few small armfuls of puny, misshapen vegetables - what ever the earwigs and birds have left for me.
In the spring, my little peach tree had been accidentally blasted by an over-zealous young cowboy on a watering rampage, knocking nearly all the tender blossoms to the ground. As the seasons warmed and shifted, a few, tiny, green peach babes made their debut on the slender twig-like branches; sole survivors of the water attack. But, as little growing things sometimes do, a few of the new peaches fell from the branches for no apparent reason, and a few were knocked off in a late wind storm.
For the last two months I had been hopefully watching the only remaining peach cling to it's perch like a lone Christmas ornament tucked close to the trunk. It had grown to a modest but ample gift, waiting for me, waiting for it. I wanted that peach.

I turned to the corner of the yard, and my eyes fell to the ground where my blushing peach lay. I sighed and gathered it up in my grape-cluster-free hand. It hadn't been a long fall, but the spot where it had lain had already been nibbled at by nature's clean-up crew. Sad, my last peach, lost. Some metaphors are imposible to miss.

I carried it all in, tomatoes, grapes, and my peach. Guy saw and commented. "Oh, you picked it. It didn't feel ready yet when I checked it yesterday."
"I found it on the ground." I said simply.
"Wow, that happened fast."

I set my damaged, sparse little harvest on the counter and surveyed the scene. Really, the peach wasn't ready when it fell, still a bit firm to the touch. I wondered if it could still be eaten if I cut out the bad side. I felt like I owed it to the little tree to enjoy the one token it had worked so hard on all spring and summer. I set it aside to wait one more day.

Today I washed the little peach, cutting the nibbled end away, and carefully peeled it. I tasted it... a sweet surprise. It was tender, moist, and perfect. I smiled that my tree had done so well on it's maiden voyage. I saved the last bite for Guy.

"For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.
He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.
Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great,
and thine offspring as the grass of the earth...
Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good."
Job 5:17-19, 25-27
We also buried our baby today.



rebekahmott said...

I to grew up with my parents having a big garden. We are lucky to have the tomatoes we do, because of Eric. I am not patient enough.

Tammy said...

Came via Creme, and glad I did. I am so sorry for your loss, and was truly touched by your tender imaging of harvest. It moved me, a woman who has suffered many griefs as well.

"For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole" ... a hard truth to swallow, yes? But truth. Many prayers.