Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Art of Seeing

This time of year, my farmer/gardener persona comes to the fore and I spend a couple of hours every morning in my garden. First and foremost the unkraut (German for weeds; what a great word since it specifically means anything that isn't kraut, a food staple) must be cleaned out between the rows and around plants. This is a very satisfying work since half of it is done on hands and knees, a meditative way to spend time.
It is exciting to have the garden start to yield its produce. To my delight there are also wild black raspberries at the edge of one corner which on a small scale remind me of the stands of wild black raspberry bushes we had on the farm where I grew up. To get to those we had to ride on the tractor with our berry buckets past the wheat, hay and corn fields to the very end of our property where there was, at the edge of the woods, a large hollow full of berry bushes, instead of walking a few feet. On hot days, picking berries can be pretty miserable because you need to have on long pants and a long sleeved shirt. The reward, of course, is the luscious, sweet, half orbs eaten fresh or baked in my favorite kind of pie. As a child, there was also a certain amount of competition for picking the most, which I am certain my mother encouraged so we'd get the job done sooner. Now that competition is to get as much of the fruit as possible.
The art of picking fruit or produce requires a willingness to see the plant from all angles. This morning as I harvested my first of the black raspberries, I fought my way through the prickers, cleared out weeds that had grown up, and proudly filled my bowl with ripe fruit. I looked carefully from different angles, pushed aside leaves and stalks, and felt satisfied with my efforts. Moving to the next job, I began weeding the area immediately in front of the berry bushes. While on my hands and knees I was surprised to see that from this perspective there were many berries I had missed. I got my bowl and began to harvest again. I hope I got them all, but if I didn't, the ones I missed can be considered toll berries for the birds and mother earth.
Once again on my knees weeding, my mind turned to the life lessons I have learned in my garden. To reap the sweet bounty that nourishes, you need to clean out the unkraut, wade through the prickery areas, and look at the situation from all angles, and in many different lights. Only then, can you attain your reward.