Gosh, listening to other gardeners talk about their garden is the least-boring topic I can think of. People talking about their antique cars or knitting, or golf, to me is a snoozefest, but please do tell me more about how many hornworms you picked off your tomato this weekend. I want to know! Gardening talk is as good as juicy gossip to me.
Today’s piece, Bounty, by Gaylord Brewer is the top-shelf version of gardening talk because it’s an inspiring walk through a season of harvesting in one man’s garden. “This week I ate the last Red Haven in the proper manner,” he writes, “over the sink, the golden flesh dripping from chin and hands—a dizzying, near-holy experience.” Have you ever had a fresh, truly ripe peach right off the tree? If you have, you can practically taste this sentence!
“No profound insights, just appreciating what remains as its brief moment intersects the fleeting moment we’re alive to enjoy it,” he says, like a breath of fresh air. In the busy day-to-day of life, we spend so much time trying to tackle goals and keep up with bills, kids, and social responsibilities, that this enchanting description of a Summer harvest is exactly what’s needed for the gardener’s soul. If you need a power-up, you’ll love this one!
Gardening Talk for the Soul
This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that inject the joy of gardening into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!
Homegrown and home-eaten.
By Gaylord Brewer
A hot, wet Spring yielded small, intensely sweet strawberries. We ate gallons of them—in homemade ice cream or over fresh warm shortcake, sure, but mostly right out of the bowl, each glowing berry raised by its stem and devoured—every day in May we could get them. Bought either just-picked at Pearcy’s Mercantile, when the sign was out, or two miles down the road directly from their field, chosen from the three or four buckets the grandfather gave his back to that morning.
Now, in mid-July, strawberries are a sigh of memory, fava beans are finished, and the asparagus in the garden has gone to seed. Our subject, our timely obsession, is peaches. This week I ate the last Red Haven in the proper manner, over the sink, the golden flesh dripping from chin and hands—a dizzying, near-holy experience. (Note: When you spot the flatbed Gilliland truck, driven up from Cleveland, Tennessee, near the border, set up unannounced in a parking lot, you immediately stop and join the line, your previous agenda suddenly moot. The old-timer inspects the fruit in the basket he selected for you, replaces one or two, then yanks an inches-thick fold of bills from his overalls to peel off your change.) These peaches have brought us 20 years of head-shaking, sticky-grinned pleasure.
Tomorrow at the Saturday market there will still be some good late-season freestones, also the last of the crisp ears of white corn purchased by the dozen. Pints of blueberries. Honey, both wildflower and sourwood. Tomatoes are at their best—those yellow grape tomatoes Claudia loves are sugar bombs in the mouth—as are the heavy, seedless watermelons, so dark they’re almost black. Zucchini and cucumbers and Summer onions in abundance, and eggplant shiny in rich purple skins. For the past two weeks, the surprise of local chanterelles, which we’ve eaten sautéed in garlic and olive oil and also, as we learned in the Dordogne, in simple omelets. I’ll trade in my bell jar for another unpasteurized half gallon from the milk lady, “for pet use only,” and won’t bother to wait. The beaded glass, the cold milk layered with cream, the first deep drink right from the bottle. Good Lord.
When Summer passes, there will be the compensation of apples, squash, pumpkins, pressed cider, finally even cooler days. No profound insights, just appreciating what remains as its brief moment intersects the fleeting moment we’re alive to enjoy it. The abundance of the mistreated earth, those who still tend it, a community gathered and nourished. By the blessing of bounty. ❖
By Gaylord Brewer, published originally in 2016, in GreenPrints Issue #130. Illustrations by Russell Thornton.
Tell me more about your harvests. Is there one that brings you the most joy? I’d love to hear about it!