On Harvests

The garden didn’t go according to plan this year. The zucchinis came down with a case of gross-but-unidentified-disease and shriveled up. Our large tomatoes split or rotted before they turned red. Half of the cucumbers we bought at a garden center turned out to be gourds. The wildflowers got partially overrun by gi-gundo weeds. The harvest wasn’t as big as I expected and the garden didn’t have that decidedly British organized look I had sketched out way back in May.

But. But we did manage to score a nice harvest of zucchini back in early July. It was kind of nice that they died off before we started getting sick of them. No large tomatoes, but plenty of beautiful, grape-sized ones, bright as the afternoon sun. We didn’t get enough cucumbers to preserve them, but we did make refrigerator pickles and enjoyed piles of them in our salads. And alright, the gourds are kind of cute. And the attack on my wildflowers let me assess my flower ideas for next year, all while enjoying the beautiful flowers that survived. Because there were survivors. And I only noticed just how beautiful each individual one was once I let go of the dream of my perfect patch of flowers. I might have even enjoyed them more this year.

Harvests are tricky. It is easy to equate “good harvest” with “just-like-I-planned-it-harvest.” That doesn’t have to be true.

This year hasn’t looked like I expected it to. Outside of the garden, there have been ups and downs and bumps in the road. I am arriving in this Fall season with a harvest that is, in some ways, less then I expected. Judged by my own plan, my current state feels like it falls short. Until I take a step back and take a look at the big picture. The picture that includes all the joys and the victories and even the, “well, we made it through that one”s. The truth is, this summer held zero professional achievements. It held more visits to the doctor than I would like. But it also includes a thousand wonderful memories with our family. Trips and non-trips, days spent at landmarks and days spent in the yard. Swimming and fishing and book reading. A harvest that is better than anything I drew up in my plans.

It’s hard to let go of the plan. It really is. But it is only when I do that I have the chance to see the harvest for what it is: beautiful.