I was picking peas the other day, which, as it turns out, requires a surprising amount of focus. It’s not nearly as easy as picking strawberries. With a strawberry, sure, you may have to lift a few leaves, but the plump red goodness stands out easily against a backdrop of glossy, dark green. Peas are both fortunately and unfortunately the exact same color as the stalks and leaves they grow around, and when you have a big tangle of vines growing together up a trellis it can be pretty difficult to spot the little buggers.
I like to make a game of it – like a treasure hunt.
Honestly, it brings me so much joy I can’t stop smiling while I’m picking. It’s hard not to be grateful when I’m standing there with my feet in the earth, picking my own food from a vine instead of buying it in a plastic container. I am genuinely awestruck at the wonder of it all. I know that sounds simplistic, but at its best, aren’t life’s greatest joys found in the simplest places? A hug, a smile, the watercolors of a magical sunset, and…well, picking peas. Harvesting anything, really.
The idea that when we nurture the earth, the earth feeds and nurtures us in return is something I keep coming back to as I learn more and more about growing my own food.
It helps that I’ve been reading / listening to the fascinating and incredibly nuanced “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. A botanist by trade, she is also part Native American, and blends her knowledge into a beautiful, poetic treatise on how plants shape our lives, and we theirs, coming back again and again to one central idea: We are responsible for being stewards of this planet, and also of one another.
Wisdom indeed, given these particular moments in history.
Gardening doesn’t happen by chance, it happens by choice. Sure, anyone can toss some seeds into a bunch of dirt, but what grows from those seeds quite literally lives or dies according to what happens next. What you plant, where you put it, how you feed it, how much water it requires…The list goes on and on, but one thing is certain: In order to truly nurture another living thing, we must first hold it in high esteem. We must see it as something worthy of being nurtured.