06 August 2009

Summer Harvest

Earth here is so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest. ~ Douglas William Jerrold

It enveloped me as I climbed out of the car on Friday evening, road-weary and exhausted. Tired as I was, I could not fail to appreciate such a glorious summer night: warm, soft and sweet. Slowly, I drew in a deep breath and was immediately intoxicated by the scent of fresh mown fields, gently waving maples and pines and an unknown flower. As I closed my eyes and tilted my face towards the clear night sky, the few cars on the road could not drown out the nearby crickets’ song or the warbling harmony of frogs on a distant pond. I opened my eyes again to the welcoming wink of dozens of lightening bugs and the road-weariness slipped away as I headed towards the back door of my childhood home.

It felt good to be back. More than good ~ it was soul-satisfying. Circumstances at work and at home had kept me away since mid May, but I had finally managed to make it down. This trip was particularly bittersweet as I was bidding farewell to a dear family friend who is being deployed to Afghanistan in a few weeks.

On Saturday, I headed out to perhaps my third favorite spot on earth: Westmoreland Berry Farm. Once again, it did not disappoint me. Blackberry season is still going strong and the bushes were encrusted with large, dark gems the size of a small Roma tomato. It was hot and humid and I made the mistake of leaving the house a little late. Needless to say, by the time I finished filling my fourth seven pound bucket, the sun was directly above me, I was exceedingly tanned and feeling the tiniest bit grumpy from lack of hydration.

But it was worth it. The satisfaction that comes from picking the fruit oneself, in the midday heat, dodging June bugs and stepping gingerly around honey bees and having the most interesting conversation with a gorgeous snake doctor [i.e. dragon fly] ~ who I swear listened intelligently to my every word ~ made the pricked fingers, scratched arms and humidity-drenched skin a relatively cheap price to pay. And once I pop those same blackberries into a heavenly cobbler, the discomfort of a few hours will be forgotten with one bite.

The raspberries I picked are another matter entirely. Have you ever picked raspberries? I had not until Saturday and I told the girl at the country store where I paid for my berries, that I now had a great appreciation for raspberries. Next time you think that $4.99 a pint is too much to pay for raspberries, think of this. Not only are they small and a pain in the backside to pick, one must also battle bumble bees! Thousands of them! All noisily climbing in and out of tiny flowers on the raspberry bushes. I guessed correctly that the best time to pick raspberries was at six-thirty in the morning before the bees are awake and alert.

My berry-picking adventure this summer was not merely one of getting delightfully entangled in the arms of nature or returning to the slow rhythm of the country pace. I also learned something as I worked my solitary way down the rows. The juiciest, largest and ripest berries were almost always hidden underneath the largest clump of leaves and more often than not, on the prickliest branches. If I walked by too quickly, I missed them. Life and love are like that I think: if we hurry by, focused solely on our work or our daily, mundane duties, we miss out on the best and most beautiful moments and people. And be honest ~ what really is your hurry? The work will still be there; the meeting will go one without you; the world will not collapse if you do not get to the pile of laundry today. But someone may need a word of encouragement, a hug of sympathy, a listening ear or just a simple smile. What an incredible relationship you would miss out on by walking by! This week, reschedule that meeting, ignore the laundry and get out and enjoy nature and your community.

And then stop by for some cobbler.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

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