Monday, June 20, 2011

Food for thought

Our daughter made this appetizer all on her own and surprised us with her creation. She went to the garden, picked the peas and basil, brought them to the kitchen, and created a dip with olive oil and sea salt. She displayed all of this with her usual artistic flair. I was completely surprised, but I shouldn't have been. She has been raised with parents who love sharing good food, and she is an incredible artist.

That got me to thinking. Is it just who she is, or how we've raised her? If I'm honest with myself, it's probably a bit of both. When it comes to parenting, the whole thing is largely an intuitive process for me. Some days I have it, some days I don't. My husband and I are good parents who make mistakes. Despite the mistakes, it's gratifying to realize that some of the things we've done along the way have affected our children positively. For our kids, raising food and having honey bees is one of those things.

My first vegetable garden was one that I planted was 15 years ago. I remember then, that it seemed like some mystery. How could people grown such an abundance of food from a few packets of seeds? A couple of friends gave me advice, I read "Square Foot Gardening," and I dug up the grass in the back of our rental to create my vege patch. I was completely awed that we had so much zucchini that summer, I didn't know what to do with it all. (I made a whole heck of a lot of zucchini bread.) Suddenly, raising vegetables was no longer something other people did; it became what I did.

I've had vegetable gardens every summer since. Some gardens have been more prolific than others, and I've learned a ton along the way. My biggest advice would be"just do it!" It's really not that difficult and there is plenty of room for error. Plants are miraculous in their ability to grow. You don't have to do everything perfectly the way some gardening books make it sound. Just put a plant or seed in the ground or a pot. See what happens. See if it changes the rhythm of your days, or the way you view the world. Maybe it becomes the center of your summers with your children.

But, back to that parenting part. I often notice parents who spend a great deal of time reading parenting books, or planning the activities that will enhance their children's future abilities. I worry sometimes, if we are meeting our children's needs. Perhaps I need to read a book or two. Maybe they should be enrolled in more activities. I have times where I question myself as a parent relentlessly. Then there is some small moment that reminds me that as a family, we're on the right track. We have a rhythm that works well for us. Naturally setting an example for our children by the way we live is one of the greatest things we could teach them. So the fact that our lives are infused by our vegetable garden and our honeybees is an incredible education. We didn't necessarily plan that, but it's an extension of who we are. Our children know where there food comes from. They are a part of putting the seed in the ground. They understand the importance of bees in the pollination of their food. They are in the garden several times a day, observing, picking, and playing. Without realizing it, we have given them a lifestyle that meets their needs.

So how, you might ask, does one plate of appetizers generate all that thought in this mama? I don't really know. That's me, I guess. I wanted to write it down so that I could look back and remember how right this all feels... how perfect the presentation of her appetizer was in my life on that June evening when she was eight. I wanted to have a written reference for those days when my head gets going and I lose sight of my inner peace. That plate of sugar snap peas and basil gave me a sense of serenity.... a reminder that I need to stop worrying, let go, and enjoy the abundance that we have. Living in the moment, rather than worrying about the future, is all about relishing that plate of food that my daughter picked from our garden and beautifully prepared for her family. Really. For me... it is.


Melissa said...

Such an apt post for me to read today-- your words, as always, resonate with me. You are doing amazing work with the kids-- any mindful parenting is meaningful. The proof is in the pudding-- or in this case, the peas:)

Cheryl Arkison said...

It is.


Anonymous said...

Oh My!! Just love that "beautiful" platter of bounty from the garden. She is one amazingly, creative and bright young lady. No big surprise with the awesome parents she was blessed with:))) Great being with you all last weekend. Thanks again for visiting all of us!!

Anonymous said...

Poetic and relevant! What a beautiful post. I just discovered your blog and am so happy to have done so.
Your words and work as a parent resonate with me as a parent to three young ones myself. Thank you.....