Monday, September 20, 2010

Harvest Time

It's been a good year in our garden. I say this with some hesitation, because some things have been less successful than in years past. Raspberries, eggplants and peppers have been noticeably fewer. Tomatoes, sour cherries and cucumbers, on the other hand, have been bounteous, to the point where I've considered playing doorbell-ditchums with the cukes. String beans, meanwhile, have been middling.

I suppose my Grandma and Grandpa Finnegan must have felt the same ambivalence about the varying fortunes on their ranch in Montana. My grandpa was a restless person who, because of deteriorating health, ended up spending the last thirty years of his life in one spot. Grandma said whenever they had a down year on the ranch he would talk about moving to Oregon, where you could stick anything in the ground any time of the year and it would grow. I imagine a good part of his suffering was due to seeing the grass growing greener everywhere but his own fields.

That's the problem with comparisons of any kind. Everything changes. Always has. Always will. Best to accept it. Eat what grows best this season. We've enjoyed every raspberry, eggplant and pepper we've picked. Though we don't have a peach tree in our yard, this year's crop of Western slope peaches have been everything a peach can promise. You know how some peaches look great, all plump with that perfect peach blush, only when you bite into them, they're disappointingly pasty? This year's crop tastes as good as it looks. After a few down years on the tomato front, it's been great to have more than our fair share. I've dried a lot of cherries I'll include in my oatmeal, and I've frozen enough of them to make a cherry pie in the dead of winter.

I still wish we had more eggplants this year. I love baba ganouj and mousakka. There's always next year.

Worry Holiday

In church yesterday, our minister Rev. Martie McMane gave a great sermon on keeping the Sabbath. It's almost incredible that a minister of the progressive United Church of Christ in the People's Republic of Boulder, no less, would give a speech on keeping the Sabbath, and keep a congregation of more than 200 people totally rapt. But that is the courage of Martie McMane.

She touched on worry as an activity to leave behind on the Sabbath. As a world class worrier I decided I was going to do my best to take a worry holiday, to not borrow trouble. I've been saturated in worry since I was in my mother's womb. When the women in my family love, we worry.

But worry is so negative. It's a way of not allowing myself to feel the tender, out-of-control-ness of love. Love might overwhelm me with tenderness and vulnerability, while worry is a spiral, perhaps motivated by love, but actually more by fear, and the fear of losing what I have, or what I think is mine, or wish was mine, or despair that will ever be mine. Worry is pain. Love has a pain component, and there's also that vulnerability piece I avoid like the plague. Not gonna allow myself to be vulnerable and exposed.

Worry constructs a wall against attacks, real and perceived. Whereas with love, there are no walls. Only unity with all that life can bring, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, courage and fear. In love there are no barriers. That's what Joni Mitchell is saying in "Clouds": "I really don't know love at all." I admit I really don't know love.

I could judge myself for that--I've had almost 50 years to learn, blah, blah, blah. But I'm going to start my loving close to home--I'm going to refrain from self-judgment.

Because my capacity to love is not a competition--it's an evolution. I make no judgment on how fast or how slowly I've evolved in my capacity to love. Let's say I'm growing in my capacity to love. I'm not going to pretend I'm better or worse at it than anyone else, or than I have been at other times in my life. I am where I am. Or to quote the great Popeye, "I yam what I yam."