November 28, 2009

* On Being Grateful

It's fall.  The harvest is in and we are enjoying the fruits of our labours.  Years ago, on the farm, that is literally what we were doing.  Mom and I would have canned or frozen all the vegetables.  The annual trip to the Okanagan Valley for a car load of fruit would have culminated in a cold room full of earthly delights.  Mama would have plucked the chickens, I would have gutted them, and they too would have been put away for winter meals.  Jam, jellies, and pickles joined the abundance.

Speaking of jams and jellies, let me tell you, the berries did not come from the frozen food section at the super market.  They had to be picked! We seemed to know where all the best berries grew.  The raspberries came from Aunty Mays' patch of cultivated bushes.  Blueberries grew in low lying, sort of moss/bog areas.  The day was spent crawling on your hands and knees to pick those.  Chokecherries, we had on our own land.  Mama and I would spend days picking berries.  The mere thought of Mama's chokecherry syrup still makes my mouth water.  It was a busy time of year on the farm.   Oh!  I forgot about saskatoons.  They grew wild a quarter mile from home.  I would walk there with my little bucket and pick just enough for Papa and I for lunch.  Mama wasn't a saskatoon fan.  I think she was served worms with her berries once, and for some reason she didn't want them again!  After we got the freezer, there was the pleasure of fruit pies 'on demand'.  Mama would whip up a minimum of fifteen pies in a day and freeze them.  At Christmas our choices of desserts would be, apple pie (apples from our own tree), raspberry, blueberry, cherry and/or Christmas pudding.   WHEW!  Those were the good old days!

Crops were harvested. Grain was stored to be sold over a period of time.   The wheat from our field simmered on the back of the stove all night. As it popped open, it became porridge with fresh farm cream and brown sugar the next morning.  The butchering was completed.  Hams and bacon hung in the smoke house, and beef was cured, cut and wrapped.  Before a home freezer was affordable, meat was stored in a rented locker in Edmonton. When a freezer became available at home, it was an entirely new world!

Times have certainly changed in my world.   Now I go to the grocery store or the market.  There are many farms and markets in Victoria where I can purchase locally grown produce.  I am very grateful for the abundance and quality of local food.  I am grateful my Mama taught me how to prepare and enjoy a beautiful meal.  I am very grateful I have experienced growing my own food.  I'd still like to have a little vegetable garden.  I am grateful I appreciate and understand the process of planting, nurturing, and harvesting - it applies to so much more in life than feeding oneself.  What's on your "grateful" list today?

"The true harvest of my life is intangible - a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched."  ~Henry David Thoreau

Today, I am beginning a daily addition to the blog.  It will be known as "WHAT MAKES MY HEART SING".  The criteria for 'whatever the object of my affection' is this:  I must absolutely LOVE it - not simply LIKE it.   It must literally make my heart sing, take my breath away,  place an involuntary, uninvited  smile on my face, cause me to jump up and down (at least inside), give rise to palpitations,  generate a weakness in my knees, or initiate the vapours!!!  I hope you see what I mean.   I began to consider what sorts of things affect me in this way.  Quite a lot of subjects came to mind which produce these 'good vibrations'.  I found it rather interesting, so thought I would share one a day. Have you ever thought about what makes your heart sing?  I am very grateful I can feel that kind of exquisite emotion.

                                                    WHAT MAKES MY HEART SING?

Yes!!  Highland Cattle!!!!!!  I adore them.  When I'm driving and see a herd of them, I screech to a halt to 'oooooo' and 'ahhhhhh'.  If my camera is with me, I take more photos than necessary.  For some years, I collected paintings of highland cattle.  Simply looking at and enjoying those paintings produced contentment.   If I had some land and a partner, I would probably raise a couple!!!  Their long curly hair leaves me weak!  And their little faces - big eyes!!!  I just want to hug them.  They make me smile 'til my jaw hurts.  Naturally, the 'real thing' grazing in the Scottish highlands is even more thrilling for me -- they still have their Scottish brogue!   Suffice it to say --  they do me in.  Highland Cattle make my heart sing!

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