I am grateful for gardens. I’ve just made a gigantic pot of Harvest Soup, filled with garden goodness of homegrown vegetables: butternut squash (of which we have enough to solve world hunger), onions, carrots, leeks, and garlic. The chicken stock was brewed on my own stove from the carcasses of happy organically fed chicken, chicken who spent their days in the sunshine under the fruit trees and digging in the garden. This soup is so good that I see myself running faster than a speeding bullet and leaping tall buildings in a single bound after I have slurped back a bowlful. I may very well be transferred into something bordering on bionic.
Building soup truly is the beauty of this time of year: harvest time. It’s all good: the rich colours in the fields and trees, the stove humming with salsas and soups and stews, the jars of bounty stacked up on cold room shelves filled with pickles and jams and jellies, the paper bags full of potatoes and onions. It does the soul a happy service, that feeling of fortification, of storing away for later, of bracing for winter. The same can be said of stacks of firewood. It is the busy ant inside us all, given the opportunity, that has us doing such things, like the squirrel that hides away his nutty treasures for later, the dog and his bone. We’re all driven to do the same.
I’m still wandering to the garden for swiss chard that has held firm against the frost, for carrots and onions, wandering to my perpetual grocery store growing in my own backyard. This thing, this green wonder is such a treasure. We have raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and haskap. We have asparagus and garlic and just about everything in between. We had turnips the size of basketballs this year and more crooked neck summer squash than anyone needs considering we don’t even remember planting them, but Gracie happily drags one along with her on just about every walk this fall, stashing the squash in the woods until the return trip. We had volunteer cilantro peeking out of every spare corner of the garden and some kind of artichoke that has no real purpose aside of being strange and lovely. We had abundant tomatoes bursting off the vine until a terrible blight swooped down and gobbled them all up. We had cauliflower that didn’t amount to much and Brussels sprouts too shy to emerge and broccoli infested with tiny green worms. We couldn’t keep ahead of the lettuce that went to seed and the beets were delicious but tiny and not many. The green beans for which I have a serious aversion just kept coming and coming. The hurricane that swept through in late summer claimed the lives of our second go of peas.
And now it’s over, fall is here and the garden has wilted and quieted and much too soon it will be buried in snow, the soil snoozing and resting and waiting for the sign to erupt again.