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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How the Harvest is Like Life: A Weedy Wednesday Confession

Gardening is one of those things you do because you love it, not because you expect a perfect result. It is sort of like life that way. You plant things, tend to them, and then you harvest the results. Some years the harvest is fabulous; abundant and lush, with glorious colors and aromas that lift the soul and overflow the plate. Sometimes, things go wrong--stuff you could have fixed if you'd done something differently, stuff that was completely out of your control.

We're in the middle of the harvest season now--both in mundane life and the pagan "Wheel of the Year," where harvests are so important, we have three holidays or Sabbats dedicated to them: Lammas (Aug 1st), Mabon/Autumn Equinox (coming up on the 22nd of this month) and Samhain, also known to many as Halloween. I often use this time of year to assess how I'm doing on my goals (both mundane and spiritual). This year, even more than most, my garden reminds me of the imperfections in my own life, which is generally going quite well, but has some places where I could have wished for a different result.

The thing is, I tend to try and accent the positive--other than the occasional falling tree or lightning-killed router--so I suspect there are people out there who think my life is perfect, just like my harvest. Because most of the time, I only show you the pictures of the pretty stuff.

So today, I'm fessing up. This year's garden harvest has been...well...not so great. Yes, I have had some successes. But in general, at least in my area, the rollercoaster weather has conspired to make for a lousy harvest.
The storms over the weekend knocked down much of the corn. Sadly, it doesn't much matter, since it didn't seem to be doing much of anything anyway.
 My tomatoes have the blight. You can see that there are very few leaves left on the plants, and the ones that are there are shriveled and brown. The tomatoes are also suffering from cracking, due to the weather changes, and simply rotting on the vine. I have plenty to eat fresh right now--one of the great pleasures of the summer--but not enough to put away for the winter.
 And unlike the other things, which I didn't have any control over (or at least, which would have taken fairly Herculean efforts to prevent), the bed below shows where I just plain ran out of the energy and time to fight the weeds. There are still carrots and eggplants struggling along gallantly, but the harvest won't be nearly as good as it would have been if I'd been able to keep up.
 For every plate of gorgeous tomatoes
 There are just as many that look like this
Because, you know, that's gardening. And life.
Still, success comes in all sizes and shapes--
And like gardening, whether we consider our harvest a good one or not depends at least partly on attitude.

Yes, this has been a frustrating year (both in the garden and in a few areas of my life). But really, I am quite blessed. Not only am I getting some wonderful food out of my garden, but unlike my ancestors--or people who farm for a living--neither my life nor my livelihood depend on my having a good harvest every single year. And for every blight or storm, there are plenty of things that have come up in abundance, and my plate is still full of wonderful gifts.

Hopefully, I will have learned a few things from this year's disasters, and will be able to prevent a few of them next year. But mostly, I'm just happy for the good tomatoes, both actual and metaphorical. My life isn't perfect, any more than my garden is (can you say GIANT RAVENOUS MOSQUITOES?), but it is still darned good. And I'll probably go on showing you  mostly the pretty side, because I like it when y'all have delusions about my perfection :-)

So--how was this year's harvest for you?


  1. I think you got a lot of good out of your garden and that you are doing very well given the challenges you've faced this year.

    My harvest is coming in way below my expectations and desires (and I actually address this in my new blog post). I'm disappointed and feel some shame, like I've failed morally.

    I'm so glad you can still see the positive and good in your life, despite the disappointing harvest and the life difficulties. You inspire me with your attitude. You are a wonder!

    1. Shame is a completely unhelpful and unproductive emotion. You might as well erase it from your repertoire and simply replace it with the determination to do better from now on. (Seriously, think about how much energy you put into feeling bad. Now just take that energy and do something useful with it instead.)

  2. I feel bad for the plants, but they're not suffering due to your lack. Unless you've cloned yourself and your clone is lying on a beach getting her feet rubbed by a cabana boy, leaving you to do all the daily chores?

  3. I don't have a garden but I have been given some good tomatoes. Made some delicious salsa. Ate some sliced with my meals.
    summer is tomatoes from the garden for me and I've enjoyed some.