summer harvest

Last weekend, we went early on Saturday morning to a local blueberry farm, and I planned to arrive at 9am to avoid the hot Georgia sun.  We arrived at 9:15, and it was already hot, but that’s the way it goes this time of year. And after a lifetime in Georgia, I’ve learned to embrace it.

 

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The bushes were tall and tangled, and every now and then you could find some shade. The kids wandered in and out of them trying to find the darkest berries.

They both took the task pretty seriously, only choosing the best ones and getting excited when they found a surprise blackberry or two hidden among the blueberries.

When we pick apples or strawberries, it only takes us a few minutes to get more than we can easily consume just the three of us. But tiny blueberries are a hard-won prize. We can pick and pick and still only have little to show for it. Especially when Norah crouches low to hide and eat them rather than take them home to share.

She then found the irrigation sprinkler and decided to go for a run to cool off, and who could blame her?  July in Georgia is no joke.

I love this time of year for so many reasons, but July and August at a roadside produce stand is enough of a reward to pay for any amount of heat or discomfort. Our plates are colorful and vibrant, and I always think about how much I’ll miss these tastes and smells — sun-ripened tomatoes, sweet corn, mellow peaches — when winter hits and soup loses its luster.

We’ve been playing around with a little backyard gardening as well. I’ve frozen so much pesto from my over-producing basil and will do another round this week. And we’re trying our hand at beans for the first time this year. A tiny effort for a tiny patio for a tiny family, but it feels good to let both kids have a hand in what makes it to the table and understand the idea of seasons and growth and where food comes from.

Beans!

And, of course, I can’t neglect to mention my grandparents’ amazing garden only a half-hour away which they share with the rest of us. I’ve got big plans to freeze gallons of this squash soup tomorrow for us to enjoy this fall and winter.

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The kids are mostly with their dad this week, but I had them for a few hours today, and I was disappointed to find dozens of worms on my bean leaves.  (The perils of organic gardening, I guess!)  But Jude and Norah were fascinated, of course – placing them in a vented mason jar with leaves to keep them fed and happy.

There was a time when I would have focused on the inconvenience of a garden pest and the potential it holds to ruin the beans I’m spending effort tending to. A time when I would have been too distracted by the sweltering heat to enjoy picking berries.  Disheartened by “the small irritations like salt on melon” as Linda Pastan says in that poem I love so dearly.

But the upheaval of my previous year, among many other things, put these annoyances in clearer perspective for me.  It’s never perfect. None of it is seamless.  But these things come so seldom, and I’ll miss it if I’m not paying attention because I’m distracted by discomfort or reminders of what could have been. This is now – tomatoes, berries, sweet corn, cold cucumbers, fresh beans, bright basil. It only lasts a moment before time moves us to another season.

 

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