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What We Glean

By Allyson Smith

THE BOYS AND I brought our first harvest home from the farm in June—a whole sack of beet greens. The bag sat on the table most of the afternoon and well into the evening when dinner should already have been prepared because, frankly, not only were these the first beet greens of the year, they were our first beet greens ever. I had no idea what to do with them. I was tempted to stuff the bag into the fridge to deal with later (like when the leaves would begin to mold and I could toss them into the compost heap), but after spending two months prepping, planting, and hoeing the rows upon rows of root vegetables, eaten this harvest would be. Just as soon as I figured out how to cook it.

The farm where we work is located ten miles to the west—out of town, up the only hill around, and past eight miles of fields. A beautiful drive all in all. I dragged our two boys (ages 11 and 9) out of bed at 6:30 every Wednesday morning this summer, tossed them in the car, and pulled left onto the corn-lined highway. The boys really only complained the first day; after that they just walked into the barn, grabbed a hoe, and headed for their first onion row. For three hours every week we hoed and planted, and for three hours we talked about life and dirt. By June we added harvesting to the routine. When the beet greens came home it was the boys, these same boys who shiver at most recognizable vegetables, who insisted on carrying the bag triumphantly into the house. And for that alone the beet greens were worth attempting to serve for dinner.

I found a harmless-looking recipe for sautéed beet greens: a little olive oil, a clove of garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and voila! Dinner. To say that the kids were skeptical when I plopped noodles and large, oily, wilted leaves on their plates would be an (enormous) understatement. But after the prayer one of the boys took a second look.

“Are these the leaves from the farm? The ones we brought home today?”

“Why yes,” I replied, “they are.”

The girls still scowled and picked around at their food; the boys dug right in.

I’ve thought about the Law of the Harvest a lot this summer, that whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. I thought about it when we were choosing what to plant and how to care for it. I thought about it when the days were hot and we had forgotten water bottles. I thought about it when my alarm went off in the early morning and I did not want to get out of bed. But I always thought about it in terms of what we were going to get at the end of the season. I always thought of the harvest as the goal.

The day we brought the beet greens home my perception turned on its head. Watching my boys gulp down an entire plateful, I thought back to May, when I had handed them beet seeds and they had crinkled their noses in disgust. My boys didn’t work all summer in hopes of eating beet greens (and from what I can tell they still don’t really like the taste.) They worked because they were asked, and they worked hard. That night at dinner they weren’t devouring beet greens, so much as savoring the proof of their journey.

I’ve had the same impression reading through the essays in this Harvest issue of Segullah. The women in these pages are not just after a good harvest in the life to come; they are after this life, with all of its trials and joys, all of its loss and love. They are bent on reaping the reward of living, and will gather in the eternal harvest as it comes.

 

Hope you enjoy the new issues!

Allyson Smith

 

Table of Contents:

“A Conversation with Manolie Nettavongs Jasper” by Shelah Miner

“Donny Osmond and Pudding” by Lori Nawyn

“Finding Courage” by Nicole Trone

“The Music Within” by Alicia B. Bates

“My Place in the Garden” by Heather Sullivan

“Reluctant Sower” by Darlene R. Rowley

“R is for Reverence” by Kristen Carson

“Unanswered Questions” by Karen Findlay

“The Long and the Short (and the Straight and the Curly) of It” by Kylie Turley

“Whole” by Kimberly Parry

“Harvesting Happiness”  by Wendy Ulrich

“Princess” by Krista Clement

“Silent Season” by Krista Clement

“Inheritance” by Darlene Young

“Sin Offering” by Elizabeth Cranford Garcia

“Early Harvest” by Melissa Dalton-Bradford

“Body Image” by Melissa Young

“Fasting” by Melissa Young

About Allyson Smith

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