Summer is behind us and we are forging ahead to the fall and winter months. I often look out my kitchen window at where our summer garden used to be, it seems just a mere few months ago, and it reminds me of the vegetables we grew and the fruits, vegetables and honey our friends gave to us. There were peaches from a dear friend’s peach trees that I used to make a peach and goat cheese galette. The tomatillos and poblanos from another dear friend’s garden that I roasted and added to guacamole and chili. The fish pepper plant a friend gave to us. The herbs we grew and used in homemade pizza and pesto. The cucumbers a co-worker gave to us and we made pickled cucumbers with star anise and whole allspice. Dear friends who shared lemon grass, hyssop and lemon peppers and so much more from their garden. This is just a small sampling of all that we received.
Having a garden and sharing the bounty with others is one of the kindest things we can do. It comes to us, the recipient, as a gift. If we garden, we have an inkling, but not the full picture, of what it took for the eggplant to be in our hands and on its way home to our kitchen for dinner of eggplant caponata. When our garden exceeded our expectations and we grew too much, giving the items away gave purpose to our vegetable windfall.
Gardening is hard work. Sometimes nature is on your side and it does a lot of the work for you (sunny days and regular rain). But even with that on your side, gardening takes regular monitoring, a careful eye, tending to, and sometimes talking to (“ok Mr. Tomato, why won’t you turn red?”, or “Ms. Cricket, I don’t think so — fuggedaboudit”). When nature is not with you, you do your best to fill in the gaps and you empathize for what your local farmers are going through. When you start your garden, you cannot predict how it will go. You do your best to learn from your experience, such as admitting that, maybe, all those times you dreamt about grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches led you to plant one too many tomato plants this year.
Today, I used the last herbs (lavender, basil and chives) that I have been growing on my deck. I made herb butter as holiday gifts. I look forward to handing these precious bundles to my friends and their savoring this one-of-a-kind item on their toast at breakfast, bowl of bean soup at lunch or plate of pasta at dinner. While I was making the herb butter, I was looking out my kitchen window, thinking. It’s not too soon to start planning the garden for next year. Hmm, how many tomato plants will we need? The grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches were so good this year ….
Pixie Miller, October 2019