The holiday season is sneaking up on me this year. I am a new mother learning to fill my new shoes and navigate this breathtaking reality.
Meanwhile my perceptions of the time and the calendar are oddly skewed. The cycles of my new life are defined by sunset and sunrise and followed by the vague but joyful awareness of days, weeks and, months. When it comes to dressing the little one for a walk, the concept of seasons is still with me, but not much beyond that; the calendar is just an assembly of little blue squares on the wall that my son loves to stare at.
The life cycles of surrounding land is what keeps me informed in my mommy-haze. The harvest is over; frosts wiped out our garden; the great horned owl has begun its by-nightly winter visits to the chicken house; fall garlic planting took place; the freezer is full of home-grown food. The year is winding down.
One of my greatest joys comes from being able to cook more often with the foods we grow. When I first started gardening 11 years ago, I was satisfied to see a few handfuls of tomatoes and an occasional zucchini. After a few seasons I realized we were still only making very few meals with our own vegetables; I changed my planning approach, and my gardening style, as I became more confident and experienced. Now I plant with my eye on the meals we will prepare long after the frosts of early winter, and then gather our extended family together to pay tribute to the richness of our land.
These meals I call the Meals Made of Thanks; they fill my heart with pride and gratitude for the gifts that come from the good land. Thanks be to the savory pumpkin soup made with spinach, onions, goat milk and a touch of garlic; to the goat cheese with dill weed and sundried tomatoes; to the fresh salads out of the greenhouse; to the sautéed winter greens served with Jerusalem artichoke roots; to the omelets slathered in tomato salsa; to the fresh goat milk and dried apples in my morning cereal; to zucchini pancakes with prickly pear syrup; to the pumpkin bread; to the goat stew.
As we will sit down for a meal to celebrate this holiday season, each bite will remind us of the wonderful gifts the earth has given us. Remember, how our Mama Turkey sat on someone else’s clutch and hatched eleven baby guineas? Or how the goat kids used to make a terrible ruckus every evening at milking time, protesting the loss of what was theirs? Or how a horned owl moved in and took away two guineas? And our pumpkin patch that actually formed a patch for a change, instead of a few skimpy plants – and how good the scalloped pumpkins taste with a rack of ribs? To all of them - plants and animals – we thank you at every meal, because every meal means more to all of us now, after we raised our food and shared our stories.